To review: 1) the correlation between individual dietary components and carotid intima media thickness (cIMT); 2) the relationship between dietary patterns and cIMT; 3) the effect of dietary interventions on cIMT progression.
An electronic search for epidemiological and intervention trials investigating the association between dietary components or patterns of intake and cIMT was performed in PUBMED, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library. Epidemiological data shows that a higher intake of fruit, wholegrains and soluble fibre and lower consumption of saturated fat in favour of polyunsaturated fat is associated with lower cIMT. In people at high risk of cardiovascular disease >93 g/day of fruit is associated with lower cIMT. Lower cIMT has also been observed when >0.79 serves/day of wholegrains and >25 g/day of fibre, predominately in the soluble form is consumed. Saturated fat is positively associated with cIMT, for every 10 g/day increase in saturated fat cIMT is 0.03 mm greater. Olive oil is inversely associated with cIMT, with a benefit seen when >34 g/day is consumed. While there are many epidemiological studies exploring the association between dietary intake and cIMT there are few intervention studies. Intervention studies show that a Mediterranean diet may reduce cIMT progression, especially in those with a higher cIMT.
A Mediterranean style dietary pattern, which is high in fruits, wholegrains, fibre and olive oil and low in saturated fat, may reduce carotid atherosclerosis development and progression. However further research from randomised controlled trials is required to understand the association between diet and cIMT and the underlying mechanisms.