A groundbreaking pooled data analysis has found that adhering to a Mediterranean diet can reduce a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease and death by nearly 25%.
Published in the journal Heart, the study emphasizes the need for more sex-specific research to inform clinical guidelines in cardiology.
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in women worldwide, accounting for over a third of all female fatalities.
Despite this, the majority of clinical trials in this area have not been sex-specific, making this study a critical addition to the existing body of evidence.
Researchers examined 16 studies published between 2003 and 2021, involving over 700,000 women aged 18 and above.
These studies were mostly conducted in the United States and Europe, and the subjects’ cardiovascular health was monitored for an average of 12.5 years.
The Mediterranean diet, known for its emphasis on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil, served as the nutritional standard for the research.
The analysis revealed that closely following a Mediterranean diet resulted in a 24% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a 23% lower risk of death from any cause among women.
The risk of coronary heart disease was found to be 25% lower in those who adhered closely to the diet. Although the stroke risk was also lower, it was not statistically significant.
The study indicates that various components of the Mediterranean diet, such as polyphenols, nitrates, omega-3 fatty acids, increased fiber intake, and reduced glycemic load, could contribute individually to improving cardiovascular health.
However, the mechanisms explaining the sex-specific effects of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease and death remain to be clarified.
The study is observational in nature and relies on self-reported food frequency questionnaires. The researchers also acknowledge that potential influential factors might have varied across the studies included in the analysis.
The findings reinforce the need for more sex-specific research in cardiology to understand the impact of diets and lifestyle on cardiovascular risk profiles for women.
Such insights could lead to targeted preventative measures for conditions that disproportionately affect women, such as premature menopause, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and systemic lupus.
While further research is needed, the study suggests that a Mediterranean diet could serve as an effective preventative measure against cardiovascular disease and death for women.
This study highlights the urgent need for more nuanced, sex-specific guidelines in cardiology.
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The research findings can be found in Heart.
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