What is a Green Mediterranean Diet?
A new study was recently published in the British Medical Journal Heart summarizing a clinical trial that studied the effects of a “green” Mediterranean diet on heart health.
In the study (further details below), a Green Mediterranean Diet is defined as a standard Mediterranean diet plus the addition of daily green tea, walnuts and a plant based protein shake.
So why is everyone talking about it?
Going Green and Heart Health
The research study indicates that following a green version of the Mediterranean diet can lead to improved cardiometabolic risk, meaning a lower chance of having diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
The traditional Mediterranean diet is already pretty plant focused because it includes a lot of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and olive oil.
The “green” diet takes it one step further and includes –
- 3-4 cups of green tea / day
- 28 grams of walnuts / day (abut 1/4 cup)
- a Wolffia Globosa plant protein based shake / day
Wolffia Globosa is a plant based protein that is also commonly known as duckweed. In the “green Med diet” this daily protein shake partially took the place of an animal based protein in a person’s diet.
The Green Mediterranean Diet Study
Objective of the Study –
To examine if a Green Med Diet, further enriched with plant based foods and lower meat intake, had a positive effect on heart health risk factors like diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Methods & Participants –
294 participants joined the study, the majority being men and the average age was 51 years. The participants had abdominal obesity and/or dylipidemia.
The individuals were assigned to one of three groups –
- Healthy Dietary Guidance – Received advice on how to increase daily physical activity and general healthy diet information
- Mediterranean Diet – followed a more traditional Mediterranean diet, plus the same advice given to Group #1, as well as consumption of 28 grams of walnuts per day
- Green Mediterranean Diet – all the same advice that Group #1 was given, and a traditional Mediterranean diet plus 3-4 cups of green tea/day, 28 grams of walnuts / day, and a daily plant based protein shake
The participants were then followed up with 6 months later.
You can read the exact numbers and statistics here in the study, but to summarize –
While all 3 groups showed improvement on the markers tested, the participants in Group #3 (the Green diet group) showed the greatest results in terms of weight loss, reduction in waist circumference, decrease in LDL cholesterol, improvement in blood pressure, and decrease in insulin resistance.Which are all factors in deterring risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Summary & Conclusion –
The study concluded that a Green Mediterranean diet, supplemented with green tea, walnuts and wolffia globosa plant protein shake, along with a reduction in meat and poultry may amplify the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on cardiometabolic risks.
So what does this Mean?
As with most health studies, more research still needs to be done before the true, scientific benefits of a “green” Mediterranean diet can be determined.
My two cents – there are a lot of variables in this study so it’s hard to determine which aspects of the “green” part of the diet are responsible. Was it the walnuts or the green tea that had the biggest effect? Was it the plant based protein shake that was eaten in place of an animal based protein? What did the participant’s diets look like before the study was conducted?
However, I will say that the greatest takeaway is that it can’t hurt to add more plant based foods (including nuts!) to your daily meals. The health benefits of green tea are also an interesting area of study. Unless you have a medication that interactions with green tea, I’d say it definitely can’t hurt to add a cup or two to your routine.
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