Many health professionals consider the Mediterranean diet to be one of the most optimal eating patterns for disease prevention and longevity. A typical Mediterranean diet list includes vegetables, whole grains, fish, some cheeses, nuts, and fruit. However, a more recent twist on this diet, dubbed the “Mediterranean Green Diet,” focuses on plant-based foods commonly consumed in the Mediterranean region, including Italy, Greece, Spain and Turkey. The results of a recent study suggest that a green Mediterranean diet may be even more effective at improving cholesterol, blood pressure, body weight and inflammatory markers than a Mediterranean diet that contains more meat.
What is the Mediterranean Green Diet?
The Green Mediterranean Diet is a predominantly vegan diet that emphasizes whole, unprocessed plant-based foods. This diet contains very little or no meat and a minimum of animal products. According to an article published in BMJ magazine, the green Mediterranean diet may even be healthier than the traditional Mediterranean diet, which includes more animal-based foods like poultry, cheese and meat.
While the traditional Mediterranean diet is known for promoting heart and metabolic health, fighting obesity and diabetes, and contributing to a better quality of life in old age, the green Mediterranean diet includes more plant-based foods, such as green tea and the so-called sea vegetable mankai (or duckweed), loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants.
How does it work?
A green Mediterranean vegan diet, or those close to a vegan/vegetarian diet most of the time, can improve health by providing vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, as well as plenty of fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. . Recent research published in Heart journal suggests that this type of Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and diabetes.
These effects are thought to be due to high intakes of polyphenols from foods and beverages like vegetables, tea, and seaweed, healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, and seeds, and fiber from vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. At the same time, the Green Mediterranean Diet contains less saturated fat from red meat and less added sugar and other chemicals from processed foods.
According to studies, following a green Mediterranean eating plan can support cardiovascular, metabolic, cognitive, gut, and immune health.
Here are some of the benefits of this type of plant-based diet:
– Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
– Protection against obesity and improved waist size and BMI (lower waist size is associated with metabolic health).
– Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
– Reduced hunger and cravings through increased fiber and nutrient intake.
– Improved cholesterol levels and blood pressure
– Improved insulin sensitivity
– Reduction of inflammatory markers
When researchers at the aforementioned Heart 2021 study tried to determine whether a greener version of the Med diet offered even more protection against developing the disease, they found evidence to support it. Their data showed that a Green Med diet contains more green plant-based food sources and even less red meat than a regular Med diet, which appears to support weight maintenance and heart health.
The study authors concluded:
Adherence to a green Mediterranean diet coupled with physical activity has the potential to make an important contribution to public health. The results suggest that further limiting meat consumption while increasing plant-based, high-protein foods beyond the known beneficial effects of the traditional Mediterranean diet may be even more beneficial for cardiometabolic status and lower cardiovascular risk.
Here are more details about the study and the key benefits of the Mediterranean Green Diet that were discovered:
The study involved nearly 300 randomly selected adults who were moderately obese and sedentary (with an average BMI of 31 and age 51). Participants were divided into three diet groups:
– Those who have received advice on stimulating physical activity and basic guidelines for healthy eating.
– Those who received the same advice on physical activity plus advice on following a traditional reduced calorie Med diet (1500-1800 kcal/day for men and 1200-1400 kcal/day for women).
– Those who have received advice on getting physically active, as well as advice on following a similar reduced-calorie, green version of the Mediterranean diet.
– Those following the Med Green diet have been instructed to avoid refined carbohydrates, red meat, poultry and processed meats, and include vegetables and other plants, nuts, several cups of green tea per day, and the aquatic plant called duckweed (also called Wolffia globosa ) to prefer , which is a cultured, protein-rich mankai strain).
After six months, the effect of each diet on weight loss and cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors was assessed.
Participants on both types of Mediterranean diets lost weight. Those following the Green Med diet lost about 14 pounds on average, and those following the traditional Med diet lost about 10 pounds. People who “eat healthy” have lost about 1.5 kg.
Waist circumference decreased by an average of 8.6 centimeters in people on the green med diet, compared to 6.8 centimeters in those on the classic med diet and 4.3 centimeters in those on the healthy diet.
The group that followed the Med Green diet experienced by far the greatest improvements in “bad” LDL cholesterol. Other cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors also improved significantly in people following the Med Green diet, including blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and inflammatory markers (like C-reactive protein, which plays a key role in hardening arteries).
Food and Meal Plan
What Are the Foods in the Green Mediterranean Diet?
– High-fiber foods, including vegetables, fruits, seaweed, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and whole grains.
– Plant-based proteins such as legumes, beans, vegan protein powders and seaweed (including duckweed, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and proteins).
– Antioxidant-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices of all kinds, and teas.
– Olive oil and nuts (especially walnuts) or seeds like hemp, chia, or flax for healthy fats.
– Dairy products such as yogurt, eggs and fish in small amounts.
Is tea part of the Mediterranean diet? Yes !
Green tea is highly recommended due to its high antioxidant content. The participants in the Heart study drank three to four cups of green tea daily. A little red wine in moderation and coffee may also be included.
What foods are forbidden in the Mediterranean diet?
– Processed meats (like salami, hot dogs, charcuterie, etc.)
– Red meat
– Poultry and fish (only in very small quantities)
– Cheese and dairy products in large quantities
– Processed foods
– Added sugar
Can you eat packaged foods?
For example, is oatmeal acceptable as part of the Mediterranean diet? Eat as much fresh food as possible and limit processed products. Read ingredient labels and choose foods with as few additives as possible. When you buy oatmeal, buy products that contain only whole oats rather than refined oats with added sugars and flavorings.
How to do the Green Mediterranean Diet?
The key is to eat plenty of plant-based foods, fiber, and healthy fats.
Here is an example of a Mediterranean Green Diet daily schedule:
Breakfast: Smoothie made with vegan protein powder, chia seeds, fruit and spinach. Also drink a cup of green tea or coffee.
Lunch: Salad with beans, nuts, diced vegetables and olive oil dressing. Also, drink plenty of water and a cup of green tea.
Dinner: Bean and vegetable soup, salad and whole grain bread.
risks and side effects
With a plant-based diet, it is important to ensure adequate protein intake. To avoid fatigue, weakness, and increased hunger, include plenty of plant-based protein in your meals, such as beans, legumes, and vegan protein powder. Remember that even if you’re having a hard time sticking to an all-plant-based diet (or going vegan), you have everything to gain by eating lots of plant-based foods in your diet and cutting out processed meats.
As always, if you have any medical conditions and are taking medication, talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet.
Recent studies suggest that a green Mediterranean diet may even be healthier than the traditional Mediterranean diet, which includes more animal-based foods like poultry, cheese, and meat. A Med Green diet can promote heart and metabolic health, fight obesity and diabetes, and improve the quality of life in older adults. Following this type of diet requires consuming more plant-based foods, as well as green tea and seaweed for plenty of antioxidants and disease-fighting fiber.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.
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