The original Mediterranean diet first became popular in the United States during the 1960s. At this time, health experts realized that certain Mediterranean countries dealt with fewer deaths caused by coronary heart disease compared to the US. The diet was quickly adopted by many households in the US and some other parts of the world. To this day, it remains one of the popular diet plans.
In 2020, a study was published that showed how a new version of this diet, known as the green Mediterranean diet, could further benefit the metabolism and cardiovascular system. Although it’s mostly based on the original diet popularized in the 1960s, it does add some more restrictions and promotes an increased intake of certain foods.
What Is the Standard Mediterranean Diet?
The standard Mediterranean diet doesn’t tell you how many calories you should consume on a daily basis. This is up to the individual to determine based on their own personal goals. If your goal is to lose weight, you should burn more calories than you consume.
In essence, this is not a structured diet in any way. Instead, it revolves around a way of eating popular in some countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, like Italy and Greece. The local cuisine in these countries is quite different, but they share many similar principles.
The standard Mediterranean diet encourages people to increase their intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats on a daily basis. It also promotes eating fish, eggs, beans, and poultry at least once a week. If you follow the standard Mediterranean diet, you should consume dairy products in moderate amounts and strictly limit your intake of red meat to an occasional treat.
Foods not mentioned above should be avoided. That means that you shouldn’t consume sugar, unless on special occasions. For instance, it’s okay to have a piece of cake once a month if you’re attending a celebration. To reap the full benefits of this diet, it’s important to take care of your physical health. It’s recommended that you engage in physical activity on a regular basis. Try to squeeze in a 30-minute workout into your schedule at least 5 times per week.
Aside from improving your eating habits and exercising, another great way to maintain your health is to get a good Medicare Advantage plan. With the right plan, it’ll be easier for you to do routine checkups at the doctor and receive medical treatments whenever you need them.
What Is the Green Mediterranean Diet?
The purpose of the green Mediterranean diet is to promote additional intake of plant-based foods while lowering the consumption of meat and poultry. In research that was published in November 2020, it was concluded that this type of diet provides great cardiometabolic protection. In fact, it offers more health benefits than the traditional green Mediterranean diet.
The study was conducted among 294 participants who lead sedentary lifestyles and had an average age of 51. Most of the participants in this study were men with moderate obesity. They were divided into three different groups. Researchers ultimately found that the green Mediterranean diet is able to provide a 20 percent reduction in low-grade systemic inflammation. It was also shown to lower bad cholesterol by four percent.
The first group of participants was given some basic information on how to eat healthier and exercise. The second group was provided with guidance on how to increase physical activity. However, they were introduced to the traditional Mediterranean diet as well. This diet included some calorie restrictions and didn’t allow participants to eat red meat at all. They replaced red meat with poultry and fish – and had the participants eat 28 grams of walnuts each day.
Finally, the third group received the same information regarding regular exercise as the other two groups. Meanwhile, they had to follow the green Mediterranean diet. Just like the second group, they also had to avoid red meat. The participants in this group were also told to stop consuming processed meat of any type. They also had to increase their intake of plant-based foods.
What was significant about the third group is that they’d drink three or four cups of green tea per day. They’d also consume 100 grams of frozen duckweed in plant-based shakes to maintain high protein levels without eating meat. The reason why duckweed was chosen is that it contains all nine amino acids, which is incredibly rare among plant-based foods.
Each group followed rules that were given to them for six months, which is when researchers began examining results.
The Health Benefits of the Green Mediterranean Diet
Researchers found that participants in the third group were able to lose more weight than others. The average person that followed the green Mediterranean diet lost almost 14 pounds over the course of six months. Meanwhile, the participants in the second group lost nearly 12 pounds over this time period. Participants in the first group, which received only basic advice on how to improve their eating habits, lost just three pounds on average.
It was concluded that the green Mediterranean diet can be part of an effective weight-loss strategy. The waist circumference among participants in each group decreased. For the third group, it was an average reduction of 3.4 inches. Meanwhile, the decrease was measured at 2.7 inches for the second group and 1.7 inches for the first.
Those who followed the green Mediterranean diet experienced a 4% reduction in bad cholesterol. For people in the second group, it was a 1% decrease. There was hardly a noticeable reduction in the first group. The green Mediterranean diet offered notable other health benefits, such as a decrease in diastolic blood pressure, an increase in good cholesterol, and improved insulin resistance.
What the researchers concluded was that a whole foods plant-based diet rich in protein can strengthen your cardiovascular health and help you lose weight. Based on their findings, it’s clear that it’s much healthier than the traditional Mediterranean diet.