Scientists from the University of Córdoba found that eating the Mediterranean diet could help improve blood vessel functions in people with heart disease.
Endothelial dysfunction is a type of coronary artery disease in which there are no heart artery blockages, but the large blood vessels on the heart’s surface constrict (narrow) instead of dilating (opening).
This condition tends to affect more women than men and causes chronic chest pain.
Coronary artery disease is a common heart condition. The major blood vessels that supply the heart (coronary arteries) struggle to send enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart muscle.
Cholesterol deposits (plaques) in the heart arteries and inflammation are usually the cause of coronary artery disease.
Endothelial dysfunction is a crucial step in the development of blood vessel stiffness, and its severity is a determinant of the risk of recurrence of heart disease.
Previous research has found that diet may be an effective strategy to protect blood vessels.
In the study, researchers examined 805 people with coronary heart disease patients.
They aimed to compare the effect of 2 healthy dietary patterns (low-fat versus Mediterranean diet) on the risk of heart disease.
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that’s based on the traditional cuisines of Greece, Italy, and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.
Plant-based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, are the foundation of the diet.
The team focused on the effect of these diets on blood vessel function. The participants were assigned to follow a Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet.
The team found that patients who followed the Mediterranean diet had better blood vessel function compared with those in the low-fat diet, even in those people with severe blood vessel problems.
Each diet was linked to distinct changes in the biological process linked to blood vessel problems.
These results suggest that the Mediterranean diet better improves blood vessel function compared with a low-fat diet and is linked to a better balance of the maintenance of vascular function over time, even in those with severe blood vessel problems.
The research is published in PLOS Medicine and was conducted by Jose Lopez-Miranda et al.
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