Green Mediterranean diet may help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a prevalent condition affecting 25% to 30% of individuals in the United States and Europe, characterized by excessive fat accumulation in the liver.

A groundbreaking study from Ben-Gurion University and Harvard University presents a green Mediterranean diet as a promising intervention for reducing NAFLD, demonstrating substantial reductions in liver fat compared to other healthy diets.

Study Overview

The researchers formulated and examined a new green Mediterranean diet, abundant in vegetables, enriched with polyphenols, and included daily intakes of 28 grams of walnuts and minimal red and processed meat.

The green components of the diet were emphasized with three to four cups of green tea per day and 100 grams per day of a Mankai green shake.

Mankai, or duckweed, is an aquatic green plant noted for its richness in bioavailable protein, iron, B12, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols.

The study involved 294 middle-aged workers with abdominal obesity, divided into three dietary groups: a healthy dietary regimen, the traditional Mediterranean diet, and the green Mediterranean diet.

All participants were also enrolled in a physical exercise program and provided with free gym memberships. The impact of these diets on liver fat was then assessed.

Key Findings

The green Mediterranean diet resulted in the most substantial reduction in liver fat, showing a 39% decrease, compared to a 20% decrease in the traditional Mediterranean diet and a 12% decrease in the healthy dietary guidelines group.

The prevalence of NAFLD in the green Mediterranean group significantly dropped from 62% to 31.5%, compared to reductions to 47.9% in the Mediterranean group and 54.8% in the healthy dietary regimen group.

Higher intakes of Mankai and walnuts, along with reduced red/processed meat consumption, were correlated with greater fat loss.

Implications and Conclusion

Given the absence of any approved medication for NAFLD, lifestyle modifications, including dietary changes, are crucial.

The green Mediterranean diet, rich in polyphenols and low in red and processed meat, stands out as a potent solution for reducing liver fat and potentially halving the risk of NAFLD.

With the effectiveness of polyphenols and the notable benefits of green components like Mankai and green tea, this study, led by Prof. Iris Shai and published in Gut, provides hope and a basis for future research in dietary interventions for NAFLD.

For Further Reading

Those interested in nutritional science can explore more on how the Mediterranean diet could bolster brain health and how optimal vitamin intake timing could mitigate heart disease risks.

Further insights can be gained from studies focusing on plant nutrients’ role in managing high blood pressure and the potential of antioxidants in diminishing dementia risk.

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