CRP Levels and the Mediterranean Diet Link

Articles
January 14, 2009

CRP Levels and the Mediterranean Diet Link

Protecting the heart is one of America's hottest health topics being that it is the number one killer of people living in the United States. A perpetual inflow of research and doctors recommending what we should do, what we shouldn't do is available daily in print, on television, and on the web. Most of the suggestions in this latest news are what we've heard before, but still need to be reminded of for our health's sake, and the risk factors remain intact - smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity. However, new attention is being paid to another factor - C-reactive protein, or CRP. "Inflammation" is the process by which the body responds to injury or an infection. Laboratory evidence and findings from clinical and population studies suggest that inflammation is important in atherosclerosis (ath"er-o-skleh-RO'sis). This is the process in which fatty deposits build up in the inner lining of arteries. C-reactive protein (CRP) is one of the acute phase proteins that increase during systemic inflammation. According to the American Heart Association, testing CRP levels in the blood may be an additional way to assess cardiovascular disease risk. A more sensitive CRP test, called a highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) assay, is available to determine heart disease risk, and in this latest study, researchers from the Cardiovascular Prevention Institute of South Florida agree. Researchers said that even patients with heart problems are rarely given this test, and suggest that it should hand in hand with cholesterol tests.

Protecting the heart is one of America's hottest health topics being that it is the number one killer of people living in the United States. A perpetual inflow of research and doctors recommending what we should do, what we shouldn't do is available daily in print, on television, and on the web. Most of the suggestions in this latest news are what we've heard before, but still need to be reminded of for our health's sake, and the risk factors remain intact - smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity.  However, new attention is being paid to another factor - C-reactive protein, or CRP.

"Inflammation" is the process by which the body responds to injury or an infection. Laboratory evidence and findings from clinical and population studies suggest that inflammation is important in atherosclerosis (ath"er-o-skleh-RO'sis). This is the process in which fatty deposits build up in the inner lining of arteries. C-reactive protein (CRP) is one of the acute phase proteins that increase during systemic inflammation.

According to the American Heart Association, testing CRP levels in the blood may be an additional way to assess cardiovascular disease risk. A more sensitive CRP test, called a highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) assay, is available to determine heart disease risk, and in this latest study, researchers from the Cardiovascular Prevention Institute of South Florida agree. Researchers said that even patients with heart problems are rarely given this test, and suggest that it should hand in hand with cholesterol tests.

The dietary advice that emerged from this recent study is not a new concept, but the benefits are highlighted. Since the late 1950s, scientists have been intrigued with the fact that found that heart disease was rare in the Mediterranean and Asian regions where vegetables, grains, fruits, beans and fish were part of the regular diet. However, in comparison, heart disease has been epidemic; the American diet typically including red meat, cheese, and foods rich in saturated fats.

These studies have led to recommendations of lowering dietary fat and replacing the "bad" fats or saturated fats with "good fats" - unsaturated fats that come from vegetable oils. What was important about this recent study in Florida, was the attention being paid to how the Mediterranean Diet's main sources of fat such as oily fish, nuts, olive oil, and certain vegetables, help to prevent heart disease by improving cholesterol ratios and reducing inflammation.