Can you supercharge the Mediterranean diet?

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Published: February, 2021

A Mediterranean-style diet is rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, and olive oil, and it's associated with lower risks for heart disease and diabetes. And a "greener" version of the eating style might be even more effective, according to a small, randomized study published online Nov. 23, 2020, by the journal Heart. Researchers — some from Harvard — recruited about 300 sedentary, middle-aged people (mostly men) with high cholesterol or abdominal obesity and divided them into three groups. One received guidance for exercise and a healthy diet; another received exercise guidance and was assigned to eat a calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet; and one group received exercise guidance and was assigned to eat a "greener" calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet with less animal-based and more plant-based proteins (including walnuts and a type of duckweed — an aquatic plant), plus lots of green tea. After six months, people on the "green" diet had lost more weight and inches around their middles, and had bigger drops in cholesterol, than people in the other two groups. "Green" dieters also had steeper declines in insulin resistance, inflammation markers, and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number in the measurement), compared with the other two groups.

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