Purpose of review: The optimal dietary strategy for the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases remains a challenging and a highly relevant preventive health issue. In recent years, there have been ongoing investigations of the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet in preventing the development of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. Initial research suggested that the consumption of diets high in vegetable oil, fish, and complex grains and carbohydrates conferred a benefit in reducing the prevalence of cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this review is to examine the evidence in support of the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet in reducing the prevalence of cardiovascular and chronic disease and their associated risk factors.
Recent findings: Recent studies intended to evaluate the Mediterranean diet in the primary or secondary prevention of cardiovascular and other chronic degenerative diseases have been focused on examining the impact of a whole dietary approach rather than on isolating single nutrients; it is recognized that analyses of single nutrients ignore the important and complex interactions between components of a diet and, more importantly, because people do not eat isolated nutrients. Therefore, dietary scores estimating the adherence to a Mediterranean diet within a population have been developed. Consumption of a Mediterranean diet has been found to be associated with a reduction of overall mortality and a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Summary: The Mediterranean diet has been consistently shown to be associated with favourable health outcomes and a better quality of life. The findings suggest that significant health gains can be expected in a general population whose diet reflects the nutritional principles reflected in a Mediterranean diet.