Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In the Western world, the incidence of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer, is increasing among the younger generation. Currently non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of mortality in the world, imposing a major burden on national economies. It is noteworthy that many cases of these complex diseases can be prevented through practicing healthy lifestyle choices, including the consumption of a healthy diet. Diets and food nutrients constitute one of the major and life-long environmental exposures influencing human health. The Mediterranean diet (MD) has been associated in studies throughout the world, with a healthier lifestyle. The MD is frequently considered as the dietary ‘elixir’ that is effective in reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases and in improving longevity. Nutrigenetics has the potential of uncovering a number of biologically relevant pathways, which are associated with the metabolism of the MD components. These studies may also reveal how the genetic constitution of an individual, can modify the biochemical response to diet, which in turn might be associated with the risk of developing a disease. Indeed common genetic variants, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) can alter the synthesis and function of proteins, and more particularly influence the activity of enzymes, affecting subsequently the absorption, metabolism or transport of nutrients and food components. These SNPs can thus underlie the metabolic variation among individuals. Consequently, interactions between genes and diet are shown to have an impact on long-term health, particularly on the risk of developing non-communicable diseases (e.g., cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer). Moreover, gene-diet interactions can elucidate some of the inconsistent associations observed between diet and complex diseases in various studies. In the present chapter, we aim to review studies, which have revealed that interactions between MD and specific genetic variants effectively reduce the risk of complex diseases. Additional studies demonstrating that the MD itself can be individualized to be even more beneficial on certain phenotypic traits, according to a particular genotype, are also reviewed. Investigation of the MD in this type of nutrigenetic studies is advantageous, since the MD represents a comprehensive dietary pattern compared to the examination of the impact of single isolated nutrients on health. Nutrigenetics could advance our knowledge in order to ultimately design effective personalized MD recommendations, tailored to a group of individuals according to their genetic profile. This will allow us to maximize the benefits of the MD in preventing the development of complex diseases, years before their manifestation.



Book title

The Mediterranean Diet: Perspectives, Food Components and Health Effects

Publication Date



1 - 40