In a study from Ben-Gurion University, scientists found following the green Mediterranean diet strongly reduces belly fat.
Visceral body fat, also known as ‘hidden’ fat, is fat stored deep inside the belly, wrapped around the organs, including the liver and intestines.
It makes up about one-tenth of all the fat stored in the body. Most fat is stored underneath the skin and is known as subcutaneous fat.
Having visceral fat in the belly is a sign of metabolic syndrome, a collection of disorders that include high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
Together, these increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The Mediterranean diet is a rich source of polyphenols, which benefit body weight in several ways.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found largely in fruits, vegetables, cereals, and beverages.
Fruits like grapes, apples, pears, cherries, and berries contain up to 200–300 mg of polyphenols per 100 grams of fresh weight.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the effect of the green Mediterranean diet, twice fortified in dietary polyphenols and lower in red/processed meat, on belly fat.
They tested 294 participants, who ate based on (A) healthy dietary guidelines, (B) the Mediterranean, or (C) green- Mediterranean, all combined with physical activity.
Both MED groups ate 28 g/day of walnuts (+ 440 mg/day polyphenols).
The green- Mediterranean group further drank green tea (3–4 cups/day) and Wolffia globosa (duckweed strain) plant green shake (100 g frozen cubes/day) (+ 800mg/day polyphenols) and reduced red meat intake.
The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine belly fat.
They found while both Mediterranean diets reached similar weight loss and waist circumference decrease, the green- Mediterranean dieters doubled the belly fat loss.
Higher dietary intake of green tea, walnuts, and Wolffia globosa; lower red meat intake; higher polyphenols levels in the body were strongly related to greater belly fat loss.
Based on the findings, the team suggests that a green Mediterranean diet, enriched with plant-based polyphenols and lower in red/processed meat, maybe help with belly fat loss.
The study was conducted by Prof. Iris Shai et al and published in BMC Medicine.
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