Health Benefits Of Mediterranean Diet
Because it’s traditionally high in plant-based foods, the Mediterranean diet is often mentioned as one of the healthiest disease-preventing weight-loss diets. Up to 50percent plant-based, it’s a great source of complex carbs and fiber.
That said, it also allows some concerning Standard American Diet ingredients: meat, seafood and olive oil. But last week, Heart published the results of a randomized clinical trial which compared the benefits of “healthy” SAD, standard Mediterranean and mostly plant-based – or “green” – Med diets.
The study’s team of Israeli, Germany and U.S researchers divided its 294 overweight participants into three groups. Each one received different instructions:
Group 1: Exercise and eat “healthy.”
Group 2: Exercise and eat the Mediterranean diet (no red meat, but fish and chicken were allowed).
Group 3: Exercise and eat plant-based foods (the “green” Med diet). The group was also encouraged to avoid red or processed meat, and drink 3 to4 cups of green tea and have a duckweed-based green protein shake for dinner each day.
The standard and “green” Med diets also included 1 ounce of walnuts per day.
The study lasted six months. At its completion, the researchers recorded both the average weight loss and waistline circumference decrease for each group:
Group 1: 3.3 lbs / 1.7 inches
Group 2: 11.9 lbs / 2.7 inches
Group 3: 13.7 lbs / 3.4 inches
All three groups lost weight and inches, but the Mediterranean diet and plant-based green Med diet groups lost significantly more than the “healthy” eaters. Even more astounding, however, were their cardiometabolic measurements. These included:
- Low-density (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol:
Plant-based diet: 3.7-percent decrease
Mediterranean diet: -0.8-percent decrease
“Healthy” diet: 1.8-percent increase
- Diastolic blood pressure
Plant-based diet: 7.2 mm/hG decrease
Mediterranean diet: 5.2 mm/hG decrease
“Healthy” diet: 3.4 mm/hG decrease
- Insulin resistance assessment:
Plant-based diet: 0.77
Mediterranean diet: 0.46
“Healthy” diet: 0.27
- LDL to HDL (bad to good) cholesterol ratio:
Plant-based diet: 0.38
Mediterranean diet: 0.21
“Healthy” diet: 0.14
- High-sensitivity C-reactive protein:
Plant-based diet: 0.52 mg/L
Mediterranean diet: 0.46 mg/L
“Healthy” diet: 0.27 mg/L
- 10-year Framingham Risk Score Improvement:
Plant-based diet: 3.7% absolute risk reduction
Mediterranean diet: 2.3 absolute risk reduction
“Healthy” diet: 1.4 percent absolute risk reduction
As you can see from these figures, the plant-based diet was superior in every single health marker!
The study’s plant-based Med participants’ only instructions were to follow their diet. They weren’t monitored nearly as closely as those in the JAMA study I posted about yesterday, who lost 14 pounds in 4 months versus 13.7 pounds in six months.
If the Heart study had required a stricter, whole-food plant-based diet, the difference in the results might have been even more pronounced. Even so, they are still remarkable!
If the two studies published this week have anything to teach us, it’s this:
The latest research reaffirms hundreds of earlier studies showing that a plant-based diet is the best choice for anyone wanting to lose weight and stay healthy!