Dietary avoidance of coronary heart disease - How practicable is the Mediterranean diet?
The mortality rate from coronary heart disease (CHD) has fallen considerably in many Western populations. Some evidence notes an associated fall in incidence, yet other information indicates a rise. In any case, CHD remains a formidable cause of illness and death. While only about half of the disease's variance can be explained by known risk factors, knowledge is sufficient to attempt avoidance of the disease. Dietary changes involving, for example, reduction in fat intake and changes in fat composition, have had mixed therapeutic success. Since Mediterranean populations have a much lower CHD mortality rate, compared with those of northern Europe - this is also true for diet-related cancers - their diet has attracted considerable attention. The principle features thereof are a high intake of nionounsaturatcd fat, chiefly olive oil, and very high intakes of vegetables and fruit. While the diet's potential role in disease avoidance is undoubted, the chances of its adoption, even by high-risk segments, are remote.