Mediterranean diet, an ally against peripheral arterial disease

The eating pattern of Mediterranean countries is based on the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, legumes and fish. And it is thanks to all of them that following a Mediterranean diet can help with peripheral arterial disease.

Yes OK over the years the most traditional characteristics of this way of eating have been lost, it is positive to remember how to carry it out in a healthy way. If you are interested in knowing, you will find more information throughout the article.

What is peripheral arterial disease?

It is a condition in which the blood vessels supplying the extremities, stomach, and head are narrower than normal. It is usually the arteries in the legs that are most often affected.

As pointed out by the American Heart Association, the origin of the problem is in arteriosclerosis. In turn, this occurs with an accumulation of fat, cholesterol and other substances on the walls of the arteries causing them to harden. Over time, the plaques can make the blood flow very narrow or completely block them.

The most common symptoms affecting the lower extremities involve the following:

  • Cramps
  • Pain, numbness, or heaviness in the muscles of the legs.
  • Fatigue in the hips that occurs when walking or climbing stairs and disappears with rest.
  • Wounds or sores on the toes and legs that take time to heal.
  • Pale color

It is important to pay attention to them, since many times the symptoms are mild and the disease is difficult to diagnose. When it occurs, the risk of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke is higher. But it can be prevented.

Arterial narrowing reduces blood flow and thus less nutrients reach the tissues.

Read more: Peripheral Arterial Disease: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Why is the Mediterranean diet an ally against peripheral arterial disease?

The help that the Mediterranean diet can represent for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is very promising. This is thanks to the great evidence that exists on this eating pattern and its benefits in cardiovascular health.

The first observations were made with the PREDIMED study. In it it was found that participants who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower incidence of PAD than the control group. These followed a low-fat pattern.

The experts' hypothesis was that the beneficial effect was due to a protective action on vascular walls, blood pressure, blood lipids, and glucose levels.

On the other hand, Rallidis et al. Reported in a publication in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet improved endothelial function in obese people. The finding is positive, since this condition is clearly associated with dysfunction of the blood vessel walls.

Similarly, a protective effect on blood vessels has been found with a Mediterranean diet and physical exercise regimen in healthy older people. It seems that It is due to the presence of some nutrients such as vitamin C, E and fiber.

This is observed in an Italian study with people affected by type 2 diabetes. A diet rich in these components (such as the Mediterranean) reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.

Tips for Following the Mediterranean Diet and Preventing Peripheral Artery Disease

The Mediterranean diet can have some variations, depending on the different regions that make it up. Yet always is based on the consumption of local, seasonal products and with a traditional cuisine.

But adherence studies are not so encouraging, since in recent years a good part of the population has moved away from the pattern. Instead, it has increased the presence of industrial products, fast food and snacks, to the detriment of vegetables, fruits and legumes.

So, to be able to follow the Mediterranean diet correctly and help in peripheral arterial disease, it is good to know some of its pillars. The Mediterranean Diet Foundation indicates the following:

  • Ensure an abundant presence of plant foods that provide fiber: vegetables, fruits, legumes, mushrooms and nuts.
  • Olive oil is the main source of fat, both for cooking and for dressing dishes.
  • Cereals, bread and pasta should preferably be whole and add them to the menu every day according to the energy needs of the person.
  • Fish and eggs are 2 of the preferred protein sources, apart from legumes. It is recommended to consume blue fish between 1 and 2 times a week, since it is also an excellent source of omega 3 fat.
  • However, the meat must be present in a more residual form. Especially when it comes to red meat and processed meat products (sausages, bacon or sausages). A good option is to choose lean meats and cook them as part of other dishes or stews.
  • From the dairy family choose cheese and yogurt in one or two servings a day.
  • Fresh fruit is the best dessert to have daily. Sweets, cakes, and sugary dairy should be eaten only occasionally.
  • All these food tips are complemented with a water intake to maintain adequate hydration, avoiding alcohol and refreshing and sugary drinks.

The plan of the Mediterranean diet is to increase the consumption of vegetables, reduce red meat, opt for olive oil and whole-grain carbohydrates.

Discover: 5 healthy Mediterranean recipes

Keys to the Mediterranean diet in vascular health care

The traditional way of eating in Mediterranean countries is characterized by the abundant presence of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and olive oil. It is accompanied by a weekly consumption of nuts, fish, legumes and lean meat. In contrast, red meat is almost residual.

Its relationship with better cardiovascular health has great scientific support. Research focuses on your risk factors, such as high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome.

Some of these aspects, together with vascular function and arteriosclerosis, are key in the management of peripheral arterial disease. Consequently, adopting the Mediterranean diet in these cases is also a positive action.

However, food is not enough and must be accompanied by physical exercise and an improvement in health habits in general. All of these guidelines are of special interest to those over 70 years of age., smokers, sedentary or suffering from diabetes or hypertension.

Now, the traditional Mediterranean diet is beneficial in many health conditions and can be adopted as a healthy eating pattern by the entire population.

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