- A Mediterranean-style diet with added plant foods may help burn fat faster, according to a new study.
- The nutrient-dense diet may help reduce a type of fat linked to a higher risk of disease.
- Dieters are reducing their consumption of meat and processed foods in favor of olive oil, tea, nuts and leafy greens.
A Mediterranean diet with extra nutrients may help reduce a type of body fat that’s linked to cancer and heart disease, new research suggests.
The diet – known as the “green” Mediterranean diet – is based on the cuisines of regions where people live the longest and healthiest lives, and the addition of foods like green tea and plants rich in protein could make it even healthier according to the study, published Sept. 30 in BMC Medicine.
A team led by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel looked at data from 294 adults to compare the health benefits of two types of Mediterranean diet against general healthy eating recommendations to eat less fat and salt, and more vegetables.
The researchers wanted to see if the diets could help reduce visceral fat, a type of body fat that accumulates around organs and increases the risk of dangerous diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Regular Mediterranean diet participants cut back on red meat, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates (like white bread and sugary treats) and ate more healthy fats like olive oil. The group lost 7% visceral fat, on average, at the end of the 18-month study, compared to 4.5% fat loss in the healthy general diet group.
But the Modified Green Mediterranean Diet was twice as effective, helping people lose 14% of their visceral fat. These dieters drank four cups of green tea a day and a green shake made from a protein- and vitamin-rich herb called duckweed, in addition to cutting back on red meat and processed foods. The green diet also resulted in somewhat greater weight loss overall.
The results are “a dramatic achievement for making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle,” said study lead author Hila Zelicha, a post-doctoral fellow at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. in a press release.
By helping to reduce visceral fat, the green Mediterranean diet may improve heart health and blood sugar control, and ward off chronic disease, according to the study authors.
Foods like green tea, nuts and leafy greens are rich in beneficial nutrients called polyphenols
The benefit of the Green Mediterranean Diet, the researchers say, is that it’s high in polyphenols, plant-based nutrients that have been shown to be protective against chronic disease.
The traditional Mediterranean diet is already rich in foods like olive oil and leafy green vegetables that contain polyphenols.
Both Mediterranean diets in the recent study also included a handful of nuts daily. Once avoided in diets for being high in calories and fat, nuts are now considered one of the healthiest foods, high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as
The Green Mediterranean Diet included even more polyphenols and other antioxidants in the form of green tea, which evidence shows can help lower cholesterol and inflammation, and improve brain and heart health. According to the researchers, the green shake included in the diet also added protein as well as a specific type of B vitamin called folate, which may have also helped reduce visceral fat.
The study results suggest that what people eat during a diet may be just as important as how much, according to Iris Shai, lead author of the study and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the university. . Research continues to uncover which specific foods may be particularly helpful in burning fat and protecting against disease, Shai said in a press release.
“A healthy lifestyle is a solid foundation for any weight loss program. We have learned from the results of our experience that the quality of food is no less important than the number of calories consumed,” she said. declared.
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