You’ve heard now about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. It’s not one of those rigid “diets” that you follow for short-term, rather, it is a way of eating for health and overall well-being for life, it is known more for promoting cardiovascular wellness rather than weight loss.
Based on epidemiological observations that the elderly living in the Mediterranean countries of Italy and Greece had strikingly low incidence of heart disease compared to their counterparts in North America, particularly the US. When seeking to discover why a resident population exhibits certain health issues or trends, scientists tend to look at diet and environment. In this case, Mediterranean residents tend to consume high amounts of extra virgin olive oil, olives fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, poultry and dairy. Red meats are rarely consumed.
The landmark 2013 PREDIMED study investigated the relationship between consuming the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular status, and showed substantial reduction in cardiovascular disease in 7,447 individuals who had a high risk of developing the disease over the course of four years and eight months. The participants were given three different diets:
- Mediterranean Diet with added extra virgin olive oil (Med + Olive Oil).
- Mediterranean Diet with added nuts (Med + Nuts).
- Low-fat control group.
This study inspired several research papers that more closely investigated specific risk factors and end points.
One team looked at pooled risk of heart attack, stroke and fatality from heart disease. They found that risk of all three was reduced by 30% in the group Med + Olive Oil group, and 28% in the Med + Nuts group. The risk of stroke decreased by as much as 39% in both Mediterranean diet groups. Additionally, other factors – high cholesterol and blood pressure levels and obesity – responded favorably to the diet.1
Another study looked at oxidized LDL in 372 PREDIMED participants after three months in the study; and found that the levels decreased in both Mediterranean diet groups, but not in the low-fat diet group. 2
Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of statuses that signify higher risk of heart disease and diabetes type II. Cholesterol, blood pressure, abdominal fat and high blood sugar levels are factors that constitute this condition. The Mediterranean diet, as has been shown, positively impacts several of these factors. And one team looked at a group within the initial PREDIMED cohort – 418 participants – who had blood sugar levels within the normal range. The researchers found that nearly 18% of the low-fat diet group developed diabetes type II compared to 10% and 11% of those in the two Mediterranean diet groups – additionally, the researchers concluded, consuming the Mediterranean diet reduced diabetes type II risk by a significant 52%. 3
Interestingly, as it relates to Metabolic Syndrome, the researchers in this investigation found that those in both Mediterranean diet groups had improved total:HDL ratio, and lowered systolic blood pressure.
Another key food consumed in the Mediterranean, notably in southern Italy, is the citrus fruit bergamot (a type of lemon, Citrus bergamia Risso). Bergamot juice was traditionally recognized by the local population as a remedy for supporting healthy cholesterol level and cardiovascular health. The juice and albedo of bergamot has a unique profile of flavonoid and glycosides, such as neoeriocitrin, neohesperidin, naringin, rutin, neodesmin, rhoifolin and poncirin. Naringin has been shown to be beneficial in animal models of atherosclerosis, while neoeriocitrin and rutin have been found to exhibit a strong capacity to prevent LDL from oxidation. Importantly, bergamot juice is rich in brutieridine and melitidine with an ability to inhibit HMG-CoA reductase.
Clinical studies of Bergamonte® show that it helps support cardiovascular wellness by managing healthy cholesterol and blood sugar, and also encourages weight loss. Please visit www.hpingredients.com for full research.
1 Estruch R, et al. New England Journal of Medicine, 2013.
2 Montserrat F, et al. . JAMA Internal Medicine, 2007.
3 Salas-Salvado J, et al Diabetes Care, 2011.
For more research on the Mediterranean diet, visit www.predimed.us.