Dietary patterns influence various cardiometabolic risk factors, including body weight, lipoprotein concentrations, and function, blood pressure, glucose-insulin homeostasis, oxidative stress, inflammation, and endothelial health. The Mediterranean diet can be described as a dietary pattern characterized by the high consumption of plant-based foods, olive oil as the main source of fat, low-to-moderate consumption of fish, dairy products and poultry, low consumption of red and processed meat, and low-to-moderate consumption of wine with meals. The American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association recommend Mediterranean diet for improving glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes. Prospective studies show that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a 20-23 % reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while the results of randomized controlled trials show that Mediterranean diet reduces glycosylated hemoglobin levels by 0.30-0.47 %, and is also associated with a 28-30 % reduced risk for cardiovascular events. The mechanisms by which Mediterranean diet produces its cardiometabolic benefits in type 2 diabetes are, for the most, anti-inflammatory and antioxidative: increased consumption of high-quality foods may cool down the activation of the innate immune system, by reducing the production of proinflammatory cytokines while increasing that of anti-inflammatory cytokines. This may favor the generation of an anti-inflammatory milieu, which in turn may improve insulin sensitivity in the peripheral tissues and endothelial function at the vascular level and ultimately act as a barrier to the metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and development of atherosclerosis.
Keywords: Cardiometabolic risk; Cardiovascular events; Glycemic control; Mediterranean diet; Type 2 diabetes.