Effects of a dietary intervention with Mediterranean vs lacto-ovo vegetarian diets on HDL function: results from the CARDIVEG study

Published:November 24, 2022DOI:
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      • Mediterranean diet improves HDL functionality, assessed as cholesterol efflux capacity (CEC), better than vegetarian diet.
      • Mediterranean diet is more effective than vegetarian diet on inflammatory biomarker.
      • A positive correlation was seen between the ABCA1-mediated CEC and plasma adiponectin concentration.
      • Mediterranean diet could be considered a better therapeutic strategy for cardiovascular prevention than vegetarian diet.


      Background and Aim

      HDL-cholesterol efflux capacity (CEC) has been shown to be a better cardiovascular (CVD) risk marker than serum HDL concentration. Several foods and nutrients have been shown to improve HDL functions, however no effective dietetic nor pharmacological strategy is available to increase CEC. This study aims to evaluate the possible effect of Mediterranean diet (MD) and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet (VD) on HDL function in a group of clinically healthy subjects at low-to-moderate CVD risk.

      Methods and Results

      Thirty apparently healthy subjects with a low-to-moderate cardiovascular risk profile (21 F; mean age: 51.3 ± 9.7 years) were randomly assigned to a 3-month MD or VD diet and then crossed.
      Participants on VD showed a reduction in total HDL CEC by 8.99% (p<0.001) as well as a reduction in ABCA1 mediated-CEC by 18.62% (p<0.001) compared to participants on MD. Regarding CEC mediated by aqueous diffusion, no significant changes were observed after treatment with either diet. Finally, a significant positive association between CEC mediated by the ABCA1 transporter and adiponectin was found (r=0.462; p=0.010).


      The results of this study suggest that HDL activity in promoting cholesterol efflux and thereby reducing the concentration of pro-atherogenic lipoproteins was more effective in participants undergoing MD than VD. Based on these findings, the MD could be considered a better therapeutic strategy for cardiovascular prevention than VD.
      Clinical Trial registration URL: Unique identifier: NCT02641834.


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