BEER-SHEVA, Israel — A “green” Mediterranean diet can help people shed twice as much visceral fat than a standard version of the healthy diet. Researchers in Israel say modifying this popular diet to cut out even more red meat and increase polyphenols makes the Mediterranean diet even better at removing this harmful form of fat.
A team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev says visceral fat is the true problem when it comes to health and weight loss. This type of fat builds around the internal organs and is incredibly hard to get rid of. It also produces hormones and other toxins that have a link to heart disease, diabetes, and premature death.
Professor Iris Shai and an international team of researchers altered the standard Mediterranean diet — which typically includes large amounts of olive oil, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a minimal amount of red meat. On top of 28 grams of walnuts daily, 294 participants consumed three to four cups of green tea and 100 grams of duckweed green shake every day for 18 months.
‘Quality of food’ just as important as counting calories
Results show following a greener version of the Mediterranean diet reduced visceral fat by 14 percent, compared to seven percent for those eating a standard Mediterranean diet. Participants sticking to a normal, healthy diet only lost 4.5 percent of their visceral fat.
“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 Prof. Shai in a university release.
“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 it is accompanied by impressive results in reducing adipose tissue,” adds co-author Dr. Hila Zelicha.
The study is published in the journal BMC Medicine.