Following the Green Mediterranean Diet dramatically reduces visceral adipose tissue, a type of fat around internal organs that is far more dangerous than excess “tire” around your waist. Recently, researchers compared the green Mediterranean diet to the traditional Mediterranean diet and a healthy non-Mediterranean diet in a large-scale interventional clinical trial, the DIRECT PLUS. Further analysis found that the Green Mediterranean Diet reduced visceral fat by 14%, the Mediterranean Diet by 7%, and the Healthy Non-Mediterranean Diet by 4.5%. The study was published in BMC Medicine.
Reducing visceral fat is considered the true goal of weight loss because it is a more important indicator than a person’s weight or waist circumference. Visceral fat aggregates over time between organs and produces hormones and poisons linked to heart disease, diabetes, dementia and premature death.
The research was led by Professor Iris Shai of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, also Assistant Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Honorary Professor at the University of Leipzig, Germany, along with her doctoral student Dr. Hila Zelicha and her Italian, German and American colleagues.
The DIRECT-PLUS trial research team was the first to introduce the concept of the green Mediterranean diet. This modified Mediterranean diet is further enriched with dietary polyphenols and contains less red/processed meat than the traditional Mediterranean diet. In addition to daily consumption of nuts (28 grams), participants consumed 3-4 cups of green tea/day and 100 grams (frozen cubes) of green duckweed shake/day. The aquatic green plant duckweed is rich in bioavailable protein, iron, B12, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and a meat substitute.
The team has shown in previous studies that the green Mediterranean diet has a variety of beneficial effects ranging from microbiome to age-related degenerative diseases.
A group of 294 participants took part in the 18-month trial.
“A healthy lifestyle is a solid foundation for any weight loss program. We have learned from the results of our experiment that the quality of food is no less important than the number of calories consumed and the goal today is to understand the mechanisms of various nutrients, for example, positives such as polyphenols , and negatives such as empty carbohydrates and processed red meat, on the rate of fat cell differentiation and aggregation in the viscera,” Professor Shai said.
“A 14% reduction in visceral fat is a dramatic achievement for making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Weight loss is only an important goal if it is accompanied by impressive results in the reduction of adipose tissue,” notes dr Hila Zélicha.
Hila Zelicha et al, The effect of the polyphenol-rich Mediterranean diet on visceral adiposity: the DIRECT PLUS randomized controlled trial, BMC Medicine (2022). DOI: 10.1186/s12916-022-02525-8
Provided by Ben Gurion University of the Negev
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