Scientists from The University of Sydney and elsewhere found that the Mediterranean diet could help prevent heart disease in women.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death globally.
While there are many risk factors for CVD, including genetics, smoking, and physical inactivity, dietary habits play an important role in the prevention of CVD.
One particular diet that has received attention for its potential health benefits is the Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish, and a low intake of red meat and processed foods.
Numerous studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of CVD, but most of these studies have included both men and women, and few have specifically focused on women.
This is important because women may have different risk factors for CVD than men, and they may also respond differently to dietary interventions.
In the current study, a team of researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that examined the association between a Mediterranean diet and CVD and death risk in women.
They searched through several scientific databases to identify studies that met their criteria and that reported a Mediterranean diet score. The primary outcome was heart disease and/or total death.
After screening and analyzing the studies, the researchers identified 16 studies with a total of 722,495 women that met their criteria.
They found that women who ate a Mediterranean diet had a much lower incidence of CVD, all-cause death, and coronary heart disease compared to those who did not follow the diet.
Specifically, higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was linked to a 24% lower risk of CVD, a 23% lower risk of total mortality, and a 25% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
The incidence of stroke was also lower in women who followed the Mediterranean diet, but this result was not strong.
Overall, these findings support the notion that a Mediterranean diet can be beneficial for the prevention of CVD and mortality in women.
The researchers note that these results may have important implications for the development of sex-specific dietary guidelines and interventions.
However, they caution that the studies included in the meta-analysis were observational, which means that causality cannot be inferred.
This study provides important evidence that supports the inclusion of the Mediterranean diet in heart-healthy dietary recommendations for women.
The research was published in Heart and was conducted by Anushriya Pant et al.
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