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La Dolce Vita: what every cardiologist wants to know about eating, drinking and being active


This session was a great success, judging by the size of the audience. Four speakers gave different kinds of talks.

Dr. Michel De Lorgeril from France stated that there is almost no scientific evidence concerning the health effects of foods. The traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with low CHD risk. Olive oils, berries and chocolate are rich in polyphenols. Resveratrol has been widely studied, it is an anti-carcinogenic and weight-reducing in mice. In the EUROLIVE randomized clinical trial, olive oil was confirmed to be more than just healthy MUFA-oil, as it is rich in polyphenols. Cocoa intake was associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality. Chocolate, however, is a high-fat food and the fat is mostly saturated. High berry intake was associated with reduced CHD incidence in the KIHD study from Finland. 

Dr Peter Sleight from Oxford, UK, listed evidence concerning the CHD reducing effects of moderate amounts of alcohol. He did not think there is evidence suggesting that wine is healthier than other beverages, but many authors disagree with him about that. However, more than three drinks a day has been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. In Russia, high alcohol consumption has been associated with increased CVD mortality, which is now one of the highest in the world. In the KIHD cohort study in Finland, alcohol abuse was strongly associated with increased carotid atherosclerosis and incidence of CHD events. On the basis of these observations, heavy alcohol consumption may not protect against CHD, as previously thought, but may in fact be harmful in that respect.

Dr. Peter Doherty from York, UK, gave an excellent talk elaborating the healthy effects of exercise and the right dosing of it. Dr. S. Sharma from UK gave an excellent talk about the benefits and harms of sex for different groups of individuals. My summary of it was that even though more sex is better than less sex, and the sex raised heart rate and blood pressure, the energy consumption due to sex is relatively limited, maybe because of the finding that the average time to orgasm (for men) has been assessed to be only 5-6 minutes.


Dolce vita, the sweet life is often considered fundamentally unhealthy, almost the opposite to the healthy lifestyle. This need not be so. A healthy lifestyle can be sweet: meaningful exercise with friends or spouse, good-tasting foods and wine in moderation, etc. And the healthy food is not the same for everyone. Due to genetic differences, some individuals are susceptible to energy, fat, fast carbohydrates or sodium – but some are not. I take myself as an example: I can eat as much salt as possible, without any rise in blood pressure. According to a number of studies, a double-digit proportion of all people are similar, while there are individuals in whom even small amounts of sodium elevate blood pressure. The same can be said about the effect of quality and quantity of dietary fat on plasma lipids, energy intake and weight and carbohydrates and weight. Unfortunately very little research aiming to elaborate these nutrigenetic interactions is underway.




La Dolce Vita: what every cardiologist wants to know about eating, drinking and being active

The content of this article reflects the personal opinion of the author/s and is not necessarily the official position of the European Society of Cardiology.