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Table 1 Summary of the Mediterranean and Indian diets

From: Definitions and potential health benefits of the Mediterranean diet: views from experts around the world

Dietary components commonly consumed Mediterranean diet Indian diet Evidence on health benefits of the Indian counterparts
Oils Olive oil Ground nut oil Mustard oil Compared with persons consuming sunflower oil, those using mustard oil for cooking had an RR of 0.44 for IHD in the age-, sex-, and smoking-adjusted analysis. Similarly, persons using mustard oil for frying foods had a 71% lower risk (RR: 0.29; 95% CI: 0.13, 0.64) in multivariate analysis. When compared with all other fats and oils, the inverse association with mustard oil remained [70].
Alcohol Wine Beer and whisky The INTERHEART study found that while alcohol protected people from heart attacks in the large sample population from 52 countries, it appeared to be harmful to Indians [71]. The Sentinel Surveillance cross-sectional study, analyzing data from 10 industrial sites in India, reported an odds ratio of 1.4 (1.0 to 1.9, P = 0.05) for CHD among alcohol users after adjusting for major confounders [72].
Proteins More fish, sea foods, chicken and legumes. Less red meat Most from legumes/pulses and less from non-vegetarian foods Although fish consumption (among non-vegetarians) has been shown to improve lipid fractions among Indians and thus lower CVD risk [73], the consumption varies in different regions. Most Indians consume pulses much more frequently than fish [7476]. In the Indian context, culture, traditions, customs and taboos influence meat consumption to a great extent, especially in the rural societies. However, there have been studies that show that urbanization has been causing a rise in demand for meat products. The per capita meat consumption in India is only around 44.39 gm/capita/day as compared to world consumption of 116.82 gm/capita/day.
Omega-3 fatty acids Fish Mustard oil, flax seeds Mustard oil is the source of the short chain omega 3 fatty acids in Indian diets [7779].
Carbohydrates Whole grains, complex carbohydrates and more fiber Refined cereals and processed foods Evidence from some studies shows a positive association between refined carbohydrates and insulin resistance. Experiments with complex whole grains and fiber have yielded a better glycemic profile [8082]. However, dietary data collection methods which are largely self-reported in these studies need to be standardized further for better quality data.
Dairy Low consumption Frequent use of dairy in beverages, desserts Observational data suggests that dairy consumption in India was inversely associated with obesity. After controlling for potential confounders, the risk of being obese was lower among women (OR = 0.57; 95% CI: 0.43 to 0.76) and men (OR = 0.67; 95% CI: 0.51 to 0.87) who consume ≥1 portion of plain milk daily than those who do not consume any milk [83]. However, interventional studies are warranted to confirm this association.
Fruits and Vegetables Fresh raw fruits and vegetables Low consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables The protective role of fruits and vegetables especially for better cardiovascular health (better lipid profiles, immunity, blood glucose levels and so on) has been ascertained in multiple studies globally but high costs, perishability and lack of awareness in some societies are challenging, especially in India [8488]. Educational campaigns from school level coupled with policy interventions are needed to enhance consumption and improve heart-health.
  1. CHD, coronary heart disease; CI, confidence interval; CVD, cardiovascular disease; IHD, ischemic heart disease; RR; relative risk.