Green Mediterranean Diet Shows Promising Results
Scientists from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have discovered that a ‘green Mediterranean’ diet, which is rich in plant-based foods and low in red meat and poultry, may be even more beneficial for cardiovascular and metabolic health than the traditional Mediterranean diet.
This research was published in the journal Heart.
An Overview of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet, characterized by a high intake of plant-based foods, healthy fats, and low consumption of animal protein, is linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
It is recommended in dietary guidelines to prevent coronary heart disease. The diet’s positive impact is believed to be related to the high intake of polyphenols, fiber, and ‘healthy’ fats, and low animal protein intake.
Studying a Greener Version of the Diet
The researchers aimed to determine whether a greener version of the Mediterranean diet, which is higher in green plant food sources and lower in red meat, could provide superior health benefits.
The study involved 294 sedentary and moderately obese participants (average BMI of 31 and average age of 51), who were divided into three dietary groups.
The Three Dietary Groups and Their Guidelines
The first group received advice on increasing physical activity and basic guidelines for a healthy diet.
The second group received the same physical activity guidance, plus advice on following a calorie-restricted traditional Mediterranean diet, low in simple carbohydrates and high in vegetables, with poultry and fish replacing red meat.
The third group was advised to follow a similar calorie-restricted green Mediterranean diet, including avoidance of red/processed meat, 3-4 cups/day of green tea, and a high-protein aquatic plant (Wolffia globosa) shake as a partial substitute for animal protein.
After six months, the Mediterranean and green Med diet groups lost more weight than the healthy diet group.
The green Med diet group also saw a larger reduction in waist circumference, an indicator of harmful midriff bulge.
The green Med diet resulted in larger falls in ‘bad’ low-density cholesterol, reductions in diastolic blood pressure, insulin resistance, and an important marker of inflammation associated with artery hardening.
The ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ cholesterol also increased among the green Med diet group.
Impact on Heart Disease Risk
These changes led to a significant decrease in the likelihood of serious heart disease over the next decade for those on the green Med diet.
The research team concluded that eating a green Med dietary pattern, combined with physical activity, could significantly contribute to public health by improving heart health.
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