Background: The traditional Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) has been recognized as a food pattern with beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. However, even if sex-related differences in the cardiovascular response to diet have been previously highlighted, the existence of such differences in the impact of the MedDiet on the global cardiovascular risk has not been yet investigated. This study examined sex differences in the global cardiovascular impact of a 4-week isoenergetic controlled MedDiet using the Framingham risk score and the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) metabolic syndrome criteria.
Methods: This study included 38 men and 32 premenopausal women (24-53 years) who had slightly elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations (between 3.4 and 4.9 mmol/L) or total cholesterol-to-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) ratios ≥5.0. Cardiovascular risk factors were measured before and after the controlled MedDiet.
Results: A time effect (P=0.04) was found for the Framingham risk score, with both men and women showing a nonsignificant decrease in response to the MedDiet. No time effect was found for the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and the number of metabolic syndrome criteria that were met by participants (P>0.05). However, a time effect was noted for the continuous metabolic syndrome score (P=0.008), with nonsignificant decreases in both men and women. No sex-by-time interaction was noted for any of variables studied (P>0.05).
Conclusions: Results from this study suggest that the global cardiovascular impact of the MedDiet, as assessed by the Framingham risk score and metabolic syndrome criteria, is not significantly different in men than in premenopausal women in isoenergetic conditions.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01293344.