Degenerative chronic diseases are a problem related to the aging phenomenon of industrialized countries due to the increase of risk factors and related comorbidity such as overweight, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia with a consequent increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Moreover, the significant reduction of physical activity in daily life and the huge growth in food availability have considerably increased the risk of such diseases. Particular attention should be paid to primary prevention by means of health strategies based on improvement in lifestyle intervention such as implementation of Mediterranean diet and promotion of physical activity programs. In this chapter, the protective effect of Mediterranean diet and the role of certain foods and/or their constituents are analyzed; the possible mechanisms by which Mediterranean diet is effective in the prevention of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases are presented, in particular the effects exerted by antioxidants, polyphenols, fibers, unsaturated fatty acids, and alcohol. The genetic revolution in the past decades has produced new fields of study where the interaction between foods, nutrients, and our genetic makeup is investigated. The relationship between nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics and the Mediterranean diet are the future area that research should discover.
Part of the book: Superfood and Functional Food