Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of 3 or more related cardiometabolic risk factors: central obesity determined by waist circumference), hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, low plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels and hyperglycemia. Having the syndrome increases a person’s risk for type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The worldwide prevalence of metabolic syndrome in adults approaches 25% and increases with age, especially among women, making it an important public health issue Having you have metabolic syndrome or any of the components of metabolic syndrome requires aggressive lifestyle changes which include dietary modification and exercise to help prevent the development of serious health problems. To date there has been little research done on dietary modification in relation to alleviating the symptoms of Metabolic syndrome. Spanish researchers have shown that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra virgin olive oil or nuts is not associated with the onset of metabolic syndrome, but such diets are more likely to cause reversion of the condition. An energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet may be useful in reducing the risks of central obesity and hyperglycemia in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.   The Barcelona researchers reviewed the data of 5,801 participants in the randomized controlled PREDIMED trial, who were ages 55 to 80 and were at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Between 2003 and 2010, patients were randomly assigned to one of three diets:

  • A Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil
  • A Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts
  • A low-fat control diet

During 5 years of follow-up, 50% of patients who were healthy at baseline developed metabolic syndrome. Salas-Salvadó et al found that the risk of developing metabolic syndrome didn’t differ between the groups. However, more patients who had metabolic syndrome at baseline had full remission of the disease if they were on one of the Mediterranean diets. Salas-Salvadó and his colleagues concluded that the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive-oil to have the most beneficial effect on central obesity and hyperglycemia. They further speculated that a Mediterranean diet, particularly one supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (which has anti-inflammatory properties), could exert positive effects on fat redistribution. The Mediterranean diet includes components beyond monounsaturated fatty acids that have been reported to improve inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance and secretion which are important in the pathology of metabolic syndrome.

This is yet another research study proving the importance of nutrition in the treatment of disease and healthcare professionals should consider dietary intervention in the treatment of all ailments.