The green Mediterranean diet significantly reduces visceral adipose tissue, a type of fat around internal organs much more dangerous than the extra tire around your waist.
In a large-scale clinical interventional trial, the green Mediterranean diet was pitted against the Mediterranean and healthy diets. Subsequent analysis found that the green Mediterranean diet reduced visceral fat by 14%, the Mediterranean diet by 7% and the healthy diet by 4.5%.
Reducing visceral fat is considered the true goal of weight loss as 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, an adjunct professor from the Harvard School of Public Health, and an honorary professor, University of Leipzig, Germany, together with her doctoral student Dr Hila Zelicha and 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 lower in red/processed meat than the traditional healthy Mediterranean diet.
On top of a daily intake of walnuts (28 grams), the participants consumed three-four cups of green tea/day and 100 grams (frozen cubes) of duckweed green shake per day. The aquatic green plant duckweed is high in bioavailable protein, iron, B12, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols, substituting meat intake.
The team has shown in previous studies that the green Mediterranean diet has various salutary effects ranging from the microbiome to age-related degenerative diseases. 294 participants took part in the 18-month-long trial.
“A healthy lifestyle is a strong basis for any weight loss program. We 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, positive ones such as the polyphenols, and negative ones such as empty carbohydrates and processed red meat, on the pace of fat cell differentiation and their aggregation in the viscera,” says Professor Shai.
“A 14% reduction in visceral fat is a dramatic achievement for making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Weight loss is an important goal only if accompanied by impressive results in reducing adipose tissue,” notes Dr Hila Zelicha.
This work was funded by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)