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Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Mar;83(3):575-81.

Mediterranean-inspired diet lowers the ratio of serum phospholipid n-6 to n-3 fatty acids, the number of leukocytes and platelets, and vascular endothelial growth factor in healthy subjects.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.



Reduced cardiovascular mortality and morbidity have been shown in persons adhering to Mediterranean-inspired diets (MIDs). Although the underlying mechanisms of this association are poorly understood, the importance of increasing dietary amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids of the n-3 series has been emphasized.


We investigated whether a MID provided to healthy subjects would affect 1) the inflammatory process and endothelial indexes such as vasoregulation and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and 2) serum phospholipid fatty acid composition.


A total of 22 subjects (10 women) received a MID or an ordinary Swedish diet (OSD) for 4 wk in a crossover fashion. Concentrations of lipids and fatty acids, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and interleukin 6, both before and after lipopolysaccharide stimulation; the number of leukocytes and platelets; and VEGF and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 were analyzed.


The plasma ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids was substantially lower after the MID than after the OSD (x +/- SEM: 4.72 +/- 0.19 and 2.60 +/- 0.17, respectively; P < 0.0001). Neither C-reactive protein nor interleukin 6 concentrations changed significantly after the MID compared with the OSD. The total number of leukocytes and platelets was 10% (P < 0.05) and 15% (P < 0.001) lower, respectively, after the MID than after the OSD. Serum VEGF concentrations were lower after the MID than after the OSD (237 +/- 30 and 206 +/- 25 pg/mL, respectively; P = 0.0014).


A MID reduces the number of platelets and leukocytes and VEGF concentrations in healthy subjects. This may be linked to higher serum concentrations of n-3 fatty acids, which promote a favorable composition of phospholipids.

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