The present paper reviews the main aspects of the health properties of Mediterranean food pattern and its components with particular regard to rheumatoid arthritis. The Mediterranean diet is based on a pattern of eating closely tied to the Mediterranean region and is characterized by an abundance of foods from plant sources, limited meat consumption, moderate amounts of fish, moderate consumption of wine and extravirgin olive oil as the main source of fat. The Mediterranean food pattern has shown a number of beneficial and healthy effects not only in preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer, but also diabetes, metabolic syndrome, visceral obesity and arthritis. Most of these effects are related to the consumption of extravirgin olive oil which, with its high content of MUFA and non-fat microcomponents such as phenolic compounds, squalene and oleocanthal, has demonstrated important antiinflammatory effects both in vitro and in vivo. Biologic response modifiers, such as TNF-alfa blockers, have set new therapeutic standards for the treatment of RA. On the other hand diet may represent a valuable support to the pharmacological treatment in rheumatoid arthritis.
Keywords: Mediterranean food pattern, rheumatoid arthritis, diet, monounsaturated fatty acids, phenolic compounds, inflammation