Women health, Mediterranean diet and Cardiovascular disease ~ Domenico Pratico, MD, Temple Uni.
Updated: May 31
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the primary cause of mortality in women, accounting for 35% of all female deaths globally. A healthy diet is a major factor in CVD prevention. However, most historical cardiovascular diet trials have included predominantly male participants or did not report sex-specific analyses. Moreover, current prevention guidelines lack sex-specific recommendations for diet.
The Mediterranean diet has prompted increasing interest due to its association with cardiovascular protection. Studies have shown that women who follow a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who follow a Western diet. This diet is described as high in unprocessed plant foods (whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil), moderate in fish/shellfish, and low in red/processed meat, dairy, animal fats, and discretionary foods, with low-to-moderate consumption of wine.
The Mediterranean diet also has benefits beyond reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. It has been shown to improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation, and improve gut health.
A recent paper published in Heart Journal analyzed 16 different studies on this topic and found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduces by 24% the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in women. The study confirms that the benefits of the diet we know for men are also valid for women. Considering that cardiovascular disease is a risk factor also for developing dementia later in life, the study further supports the importance of a dietary lifestyle not only for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.
The picture is clear: males and females can both equally get extraordinary and long-lasting health benefits by adopting a Mediterranean diet as a dietary lifestyle.
Domenico Praticò, MD, is the Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research, Professor and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple, and Professor of Pharmacology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University