Eur J Cancer Prev. 1997 Mar; 6 Suppl 1(): S15-9.
The antioxidant potential of the Mediterranean diet.
Istituto Nazionale della Nutrizione, Rome, Italy.
The Mediterranean diet not only produces favourable effects on blood lipids but also protects against oxidative stress. Oxidative damage is thought to represent one of the mechanisms leading to chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer. Many studies suggest that a link exists between fruit and vegetables in the diet or the amounts of plasma antioxidant vitamins (ascorbic acid, tocopherol and carotenoids) and risk of death from cancer or coronary heart diseases. Although a large emphasis has been given to different components of the diet, attention has recently shifted to the diet as a whole. The Mediterranean diet is able to modulate oxidative stress through complex mechanisms and not just the high antioxidant compound content. The preference for fresh fruit and vegetables in the Mediterranean diet will result in a higher consumption of raw foods, a lower production of cooking-related oxidants and a consequent decreased waste of nutritional and endogenous antioxidants. The high intake of antioxidant and fibre helps to scavenge even the small amount of oxidants or oxidized compounds.