1Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences (DeFENS), Division of Human Nutrition, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy.
2Department of Biology, College of Science, University of Bahrain, Sakhir Campus, Zallaq P.O. Box 32038, Bahrain.
3IRCCS Mondino Foundation, 27100 Pavia, Italy.
4Unit of Human and Clinical Nutrition, Department of Public Health, Experimental and Forensic Medicine, University of Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy.
5Department of Human Nutrition, College of Health Sciences, QU Health, Qatar University, Doha P.O. Box 2713, Qatar.
The effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet (MD) in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) subjects has been evaluated in several randomized controlled trials (RCTs). This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the overall effects of MD intervention in a cohort of NAFLD patients targeting specific markers such as central obesity, lipid profile, liver enzymes and fibrosis, and intrahepatic fat (IHF). Google Scholar, PubMed, and Scopus were explored to collect relevant studies from the last 10 years. RCTs with NAFLD subjects were included in this systematic review with a mean intervention duration from 6 weeks to 1 year, and different intervention strategies, mainly including energy restriction MD (normal or low glycaemic index), low-fat MD with increased monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and increased exercise expenditure. The outcomes measured in this meta-analysis were gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), total cholesterol (TC), waist circumference (WC), and liver fibrosis. Ten randomized controlled trials, which involved a total of 737 adults with NAFLD, were included. According to the results, the MD seems to decrease the liver stiffness (kPa) by -0.42 (CI95% -0.92, 0.09) (p = 0.10) and significantly reduce the TC by -0.46 mg/dl (CI95% -0.55, -0.38) (p = 0.001), while no significant findings were documented for liver enzymes and WC among patients with NAFLD. In conclusion, the MD might reduce indirect and direct outcomes linked with NAFLD severity, such as TC, liver fibrosis, and WC, although it is important to consider the variations across trials. Further RCTs are necessary to corroborate the findings obtained and provide further evidence on the role of the MD in the modulation of other disorders related to NAFLD.