By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

When coupled with intermittent fasting, consuming fish and other seafood, along with nuts, whole grains, plants, and extra-virgin olive oil, can improve cardiovascular health, according to the authors of a recently published cumulative review.

Investigators conducted a meta-analysis of recent scientific reviews of the Mediterranean diet, the pescatarian diet, and intermittent fasting. The Mediterranean diet, loaded with vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains, received endorsements in the 2019 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, as well as the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Mediterranean diet has been studied extensively for its effect on lowering risks for everything from cognitive decline to some cancers.

However, the authors of this meta-analysis noted that the lack of red meat in the Mediterranean diet may leave the omnivore in every human wanting more. Thus, they called for adding more fish to the rotation, following the tenets of the pescatarian diet. In their meta-analysis, these authors found a 34% lower coronary artery disease mortality rate among those who followed a pescatarian diet vs. those who mainly consume red meat.

“Many people overconsume animal products, often-processed meats high in saturated fats and chemical additives. Alternatively, strict veganism can cause nutritional deficiencies and predispose to osteopenia, sarcopenia, and anemia. A logical compromise is a plant-rich diet with fish/seafood as principal sources of animal food,” the authors wrote. “This style of eating bestows a range of health benefits, especially with respect to long-term cardiovascular health and longevity.”

The wild card in this equation is intermittent fasting, whereby one limits calorie consumption to a window between eight and 12 hours each day. Some research has indicated certain benefits to this approach, but the evidence so far is limited. “Our ancient ancestors did not have access to an unlimited supply of food throughout the year. Nor did they routinely eat three large meals, plus snacks, daily,” James H. O’Keefe, MD, lead study author and director of preventive cardiology at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, said in a statement.

In the May 15, 2020, issue of Internal Medicine Alert, author Joseph E. Scherger, MD, MPH, assessed a randomized, multicenter study that showed eating a Mediterranean diet for one year improved the diversity of the gut microbiome in older subjects and was associated with reduced frailty and better health.

In the October 2020 issue of Integrative Medicine Alert, author Ellen Feldman, MD, wrote about a long-term, prospective study of changes in quantity of nut consumption and relative risk of cardiovascular disease. The authors found significantly lower risk when nut consumption increases by more than 0.5 servings daily.

In the June 2020 issues of Integrative Medicine Alert and Primary Care Reports, subject matter experts scrutinized the possible benefits of intermittent fasting through a review of some of the existing literature on the subject.