Overindulged in lockdown? Give the ‘green’ Mediterranean diet a go! Swapping meat for more vegetables can make the traditional meals even more healthy, researchers say
- ‘Green’ Mediterranean died found to be better for weight loss and cholesterol
- Study found group who at ‘green’ lost a stone on average compared to others
- Three groups were given either ‘green’ Mediterranean, traditional or healthy diet
- Professor said it ‘may further reduce cardiovascular risk’ compared to traditional
Following a Mediterranean diet has long been seen as the key to a healthy heart and long life.
But scientists have now found you can make it even healthier – by swapping meat for more vegetables.
The so-called ‘green’ Mediterranean plan was found to be better for weight loss and lowering cholesterol and diabetes risk than the traditional version.
Researchers conducted a trial on nearly 300 participants who were obese, with a body mass index (BMI) over 30.
They were all told to increase their physical activity and were then randomly divided into three groups.
The first group followed basic guidelines for a healthy diet and the second followed a traditional Mediterranean diet.
The third followed a green version of the Mediterranean plan, avoiding meat while eating more plants and walnuts and drinking green tea and plant-based protein shakes.
After six months, it was found that the ‘green’ Mediterranean group lost a stone on average, the traditional group 12lb and the healthy diet just 3lb.
The research, published in the journal Heart, also found the green diet group achieved significantly larger falls in ‘bad’ low-density cholesterol as well as insulin resistance.
Study author Professor Iris Shai, of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, said the green version ‘may further reduce cardiovascular risk’ compared to the traditional Mediterranean diet.
SWAP THAT CHICKEN FOR NUTS AND BEANS
The Mediterranean diet is based on the healthy traditional cuisines of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, such as France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
The diet is high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, as well as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans and fish.
It’s not heavy in red meat but it does include animal products as the diet involves eating cheese as well as eggs and poultry.
The ‘green’ Mediterranean diet is broadly the same, only meat is replaced with plant-based protein.
This involves, for example, swapping out chicken or fish for protein-rich vegetarian food such as nuts, beans and grains.