Advances in Understanding the Molecular Basis of the Mediterranean Diet Effect

Dolores Corella, Oscar Coltell, Fernando Macian, José M. Ordovás

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Increasingly, studies showing the protective effects of the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) on different diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes, some cancers, and even total mortality and aging indicators) are being published. The scientific evidence level for each outcome is variable, and new studies are needed to better understand the molecular mechanisms whereby the MedDiet may exercise its effects. Here, we present recent advances in understanding the molecular basis of MedDiet effects, mainly focusing on cardiovascular diseases but also discussing other related diseases. There is heterogeneity in defining the MedDiet, and it can, owing to its complexity, be considered as an exposome with thousands of nutrients and phytochemicals. We review MedDiet composition and assessment as well as the latest advances in the genomic, epigenomic (DNA methylation, histone modifications, microRNAs, and other emerging regulators), transcriptomic (selected genes and whole transcriptome), and metabolomic and metagenomic aspects of the MedDiet effects (as a whole and for its most typical food components). We also present a critical review of the limitations of the studies undertaken and propose new analyses and greater bioinformatic integration to better understand the most important molecular mechanisms whereby the MedDiet as a whole, or its main food components, may exercise their protective effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-249
Number of pages23
JournalAnnual Review of Food Science and Technology
StatePublished - Mar 25 2018


  • Bioinformatics
  • Cardiovascular
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Molecular mechanisms
  • Nutrigenomics
  • Olive oil
  • Omics integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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