- A new study suggests the “green” Mediterannean diet is more effective for weight loss than the traditional version
- The green version requires consuming far less red meat and much more plant-based protein
- The green Mediterranean diet also has also been linked to improvements in blood pressure and insulin resistance
The Mediterranean diet has long been believed to be an effective method of weight loss. But a new study suggests that there’s an even better way to lose weight: a “greener” version of the Mediterranean diet.
A study published Monday in the journal Heart found that a “green” Mediterranean diet is the way to go for those looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle while shedding extra pounds. Iris Shai, a co-author of the study, spoke about the difference between the new form and the old version of the diet in an email to Today.com.
The original form of the Mediterranean diet requires a higher dietary intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and a lower intake of red meat. This is believed to be the reason why the diet has been linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes in various studies.
Shai and her co-authors, however, found that an even higher consumption of greens paired with far less intake of red meat than the traditional form of the diet required were better for the heart, reducing the cholesterol accumulated in the body.
“The main message of this study is that a Mediterranean diet further restricted in red meat consumption and with a parallel increase in green-plant–based protein with high polyphenol and phytosterols content may provide greater cardiometabolic protection compared to a healthy Mediterranean diet and it will aid in reducing LDL-cholesterol,” said Shai, a professor of epidemiology and public health at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Israel and an adjunct professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“This was especially remarkable in the unusual and significant 4% reduction in ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and a 20% regression in low-grade systemic inflammation,” she continued in the email.
The results of the study were obtained by randomly assigning 294 sedentary and moderately obese adults into one of three dietary groups.
The first group received guidance on boosting physical activity as well as advice on following a healthy diet. The second group also received guidance in physical activity, plus advice on following a traditional Mediterranean diet.
The third group received both, but with a stricter, greener Mediterranean diet. Their daily menu consisted of 100 grams of frozen Wolffia globosa cubes that were taken in the form of a green plant-based protein shake. The shake was intended to replace animal protein.
According to Shai, Wolffia globosa, also known as duckweed, “has been consumed as human food for hundreds of years, mainly in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, where it is called ‘meat for the poor’ thanks to its high protein content.”
After six months, data analysis revealed that participants who followed either type of Mediterranean diet lost more weight than the participants who only received guidelines on a healthy diet.
The ones who didn’t follow either diet lost an average of 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms), with their waist circumference having shrunk by an average of 4.3 centimeters, Healthline reported. The traditional Mediterranean diet group lost 11.9 pounds (5.4 kilograms), and their waist circumference decreased by 6.8 centimeters.
Meanwhile, the green Mediterranean diet group lost a total of 13.6 pounds (6.2 kilograms) and had an average of 8.6 centimeters taken off their waist circumference.
Weight loss isn’t the only benefit one can reap when following the Meditteranean diet. Additional health benefits include a decrease in diastolic blood pressure and insulin resistance.