British Journal of Nutrition

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and plasma fatty acids: data from the Bordeaux sample of the Three-City study

Catherine Féarta1a2 c1, Marion J. M. Torrèsa1a2, Cécilia Samieria1a2, Marthe-Aline Jutanda1a2, Evelyne Peuchanta2a3a4, Artemis P. Simopoulosa5 and Pascale Barberger-Gateaua1a2

a1 Equipe Epidémiologie de la Nutrition et des Comportements Alimentaires, INSERM, U897, Université Victor Ségalen Bordeaux 2, ISPED Case 11, 146 rue Léo-Saignat, F-33076 Bordeaux Cedex, France

a2 Université Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux F-33076, France

a3 INSERM, U876, Bordeaux F-33076, France

a4 CHU de Bordeaux, Hôpital Saint-André, Service de Biochimie, Bordeaux F-33075, France

a5 The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, 2001 S Street, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20009, USA


Higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet (MeDi) and n-3 PUFA may both contribute to decreased dementia risk, but the association between MeDi adherence and lipid status is unclear. The aim of the present study was to analyse the relationship between plasma fatty acids and MeDi adherence in French elderly community dwellers. The study population (mean age 75·9 years) consisted of 1050 subjects from Bordeaux (France) included in the Three-City cohort. Adherence to the MeDi (scored as 0–9) was computed from a FFQ and 24 h recall. The proportion of each plasma fatty acid was determined. Cross-sectional analysis of the association between plasma fatty acids and MeDi adherence was performed by multi-linear regression. After adjusting for age, sex, energy intake, physical activity, smoking status, BMI, plasma TAG and apoE-ɛ4 genotype, plasma palmitoleic acid was significantly inversely associated with MeDi adherence, whereas plasma DHA, the EPA+DHA index and total n-3 PUFA were positively associated with MeDi adherence. The n-6:n-3 PUFA, arachidonic acid (AA):EPA, AA:DHA and AA:(EPA+DHA) ratios were significantly inversely associated with MeDi adherence. Plasma EPA was positively associated with MeDi adherence only in apoE-ɛ4 non-carriers. There was no association between MeDi adherence and SFA and total MUFA. The present results suggest that the protective effect of the MeDi on cognitive functions might be mediated by higher plasma DHA and lower n-6:n-3 PUFA ratios.

(Received September 15 2010)

(Revised December 01 2010)

(Accepted December 10 2010)

(Online publication February 08 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: C. Féart, fax +33 5 57 57 14 86, email


Abbreviations: 3C, Three-City; AA, arachidonic acid; MeDi, Mediterranean diet