Ladies follow a Mediterranean diet to improve your heart health and reduce your risks of cardiovascular disease and death by nearly 25 per cent, suggests a study.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil; moderate in fish/shellfish; low to moderate in wine; and low in red/processed meats, dairy products, animal fat, and processed foods.
Cardiovascular disease accounts for more than a third of all deaths in women around the world. While a healthy diet, including Mediterranean diet, has been a key plank of prevention, most relevant clinical trials have included relatively few women or haven't reported the results by sex, the researchers said.
The new study, published in the journal Heart, is the first to focus on the association between a Mediterranean diet and incident CVD and death, specific to women.
"We found that a Mediterranean diet was beneficial in women, with a 24 per cent lower risk of CVD and a 23 per cent lower risk of total mortality," said researchers including from the University of Sydney.
The risk of coronary heart disease was 25 per cent lower, while that of stroke was also lower, although not statistically significant, in those who most closely followed this diet compared with those who did so the least.
The Mediterranean diet's antioxidant and gut microbiome effects on inflammation and cardiovascular risk factors are among the possible explanations for the observed associations, the researchers said.
In addition, the diet's various components, such as polyphenols, nitrates, omega-3 fatty acids, increased fibre intake and reduced glycaemic load, may all separately contribute to a better cardiovascular risk profile.
"However, mechanisms explaining the sex specific effect of the Mediterranean diet on (cardiovascular disease) and death remain unclear," they note, adding that the findings reinforce the need for more sex specific research in cardiology.
"Female specific cardiovascular risk factors, including premature menopause, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, or female predominant risk factors, such as systemic lupus, can all independently increase (cardiovascular disease) risk," the researchers said.
For the data analysis, the researchers included 16 published studies involving more than 700,000 women aged 18 and above.
The researchers also acknowledged various limitations to their findings, including that all the studies analysed were observational and relied on self-reported food frequency questionnaires.