The Mediterranean diet has long been heralded as a key medical intervention for a range of health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and more. Consisting of larger amounts of olive oil, nuts, fish, and vegetables, the diet prioritizes consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved health outcomes for a number of people. As a result, the Mediterranean is often seen as an important alternative to Westernized diets that include higher amounts of sugar and saturated fats.
A study conducted by a team of researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev found that the “green” Mediterranean diet was healthier than a regular Mediterranean diet, and was a more effective way of reducing visceral fat. The study results are published in a recent article published in BMC Medicine.
But wait, what is the “green” Mediterranean diet? It’s essentially an attempt to take the Mediterranean diet and make it even healthier. Specifically, this modified version includes more polyphenols (antioxidants) and less red meat.
In a trial called the DIRECT PLUS trial, researchers compared the health impacts of the Mediterranean diet, the green Mediterranean diet, and a general “healthy” diet. As part of the green Mediterranean diet, participants followed strict dietary requirements, which included walnuts, green tea, and duckweed shakes. The trial included almost 300 participants and lasted about a year and a half.
When it came to the reduction of visceral fat (the fat that attaches to internal organs, the fat we can’t see), researchers found that the green Mediterranean diet reduced visceral fat by 14% compared to about 7% in the Mediterranean diet. The reduction of visceral plays an important role in weight loss and plays a big role in a person’s health. The presence of visceral fat, for example, can produce certain hormones in the body that can increase a person’s risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions. That’s why reduction of visceral fat is a key part of weight loss in general.