Contrasting Effects of Short-Term Mediterranean and Vegan Diets on Microvascular Function and Cholesterol in Younger Adults: A Comparative Pilot Study
Academy of Sport and Physical Activity, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield S10 2BP, UK
The University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2RX, UK
Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield S10 2BP, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2018, 10(12), 1897; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10121897
Received: 16 October 2018 / Revised: 22 November 2018 / Accepted: 23 November 2018 / Published: 3 December 2018
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve cardiovascular health. Vegan diets have demonstrated similar benefits, albeit in fewer studies. In a comparative pilot study, we compared the effects of a short-term Mediterranean Diet (MD) and Vegan Diet (VD) on microvascular function and cholesterol levels in a healthy population. Twenty-four young (aged 18 to 35 years) healthy volunteers followed a four-week intervention (MD = 12; VD = 12) ad libitum. Pre and post-intervention anthropometrics, microvascular function (assessed via LDF and expressed as raw CVC and %CVC MAX), dietary-analysis data (Calories, Protein, Carbohydrates, Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Fibre), Mean Arterial Pressure (MAP), Blood Pressure, Total Cholesterol (TC), High Density Lipoprotein (HDL-C) and TC:HDL-C were compared. MD participants reduced Total Fat intake (p = 0.05). Saturated Fat decreased (MD: p = < 0.001; VD: p = 0.004) and Fibre increased (MD: p = 0.02; VD: p = < 0.001) in both groups. Dietary changes reflected improvements in plateau raw CVC in the MD group (p = 0.005), and a reduction in TC (p = 0.045) and weight loss (p = 0.047) in the VD group. The MD led to improvements in microvascular function; the VD led to reduced TC and weight loss. Although both diets might offer CVD risk-reduction benefits, evidence for the MD appeared to be stronger due to changes in vasodilatory ability and NO bioavailability.