12 January - 20 June 2016

A "Mediterranean" diet induces fatty acid composition that combats metabolic syndrome

26 Mar 14

Much research has been conducted and much discussion taken place around the optimum diet to improve the health of people with metabolic syndrome, which comprises various metabolic risk factors such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, elevated fasting glucose and abdominal obesity. It has previously been shown that sufferers who consume a diet low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and simple sugars, with an increased intake of fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains may experience beneficial effects - dietary features which are also prominent in the traditional Mediterranean diet.

In a study recently published in PLOS ONE, researchers investigated and compared the effects of three different dietary interventions on metabolic syndrome: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, and a low-fat diet. Participants aged 55 to 80 years and at high risk of cardiovascular disease followed their assigned diets for one year, with these being assessed by dietary markers from the supplied foods: plasma fatty acids. Researchers measured changes in the plasma fatty acid composition and the relationship between these changes and metabolic syndrome.

It was found that both variations on the Mediterranean diet studied induced changes in plasma fatty acid composition. The olive oil diet specifically was shown to lead to increased concentration of palmitic and oleic acids, with decreased concentrations of margaric, stearic, and linoleic acids. The nut diet, meanwhile, led to higher levels of palmitic, linoleic, and α-linolenic acids, and lower levels of myristic, margaric, palmitoleic, and dihommo-γ-linoleic acids. Oleic and α-linolenic acids are the biomarkers for the Mediterranean diet foods, and their increased levels were associated with an improvement to metabolic syndrome incidence, reversion and prevalence.

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