The first results of the PREDIMED (PREvencion con Dieta MEDiterranea) randomized trial, after 3-month intervention, showed that the Mediterranean Diet (MD), supplemented with either virgin olive oil (VOO) or nuts, reduced systolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol and triacylglycerol (TG) concentrations and increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol when compared to a control (low-fat diet) group. Serum TG levels are an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease and are strongly determined by very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) composition, which can be specifically modified by dietary lipid source. Within the context of the PREDIMED study, we assessed the VLDL composition in 50 participants after 3 months of intake of two MD, supplemented with VOO or nuts, compared with a low-fat diet. Total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations were reduced in subjects on the MD+nuts, whereas HDL-cholesterol increased after consumption of the MD+VOO. Serum TG concentrations were significantly lowered in both intervention groups (either the MD+nuts or MD+VOO). However, only the MD+VOO reduced the VLDL-cholesterol and VLDL-TG content and the TG/apolipoprotein B ratio in VLDL, which was used to estimate particle size. Although VLDL-TG fatty acids were very slightly modified, VLDL-TG molecular species in VLDL after consumption of the MD+nuts were characterized by a higher presence of linoleic acid (18:2, n-6), whereas after the intake of MD+VOO, they were rich in oleic acid (18:1, n-9). Therefore, we conclude that the reduction in systemic TG concentrations observed after consumption of the MD may be explained by reduction of the lipid core of VLDL and a selective modification of the molecular species composition in the particle.
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