The Green Med diet or more accurately the green Mediterranean diet, which is enriched in green plant-based foods with a minimal amount of meat, leads to more weight loss and improves heart health.
The Green Med version is even better than the traditional Mediterranean diet since it reduces the odds of developing diabetes and heart disease even more, according to a study.
The greater health benefits from this green plant-based diet seem to be related to a higher amount of polyphenols packed with antioxidants, fibre, healthy fats as well as decreased intake of foods from animal sources.
The study enlisted 294 adults who were sedentary and moderately obese to see if a greener version of the Mediterranean diet would be more beneficial for health.
They were divided into three dietary groups: healthy diet, Mediterranean, and green Med.
Participants who were on the green Med diet had to:
- avoid red and processed meat,
- eat 28 g a day walnuts,
- drink 3 or 4 cups a day green tea
- and 100 g per day a plant-based protein shake containing Wolffia globosa (a high protein form of duckweed).
During the six month period of the study, the healthy diet group lost 1.5 kg, the Mediterranean group lost 5.4 kg, and the green Med group lost 6.2 kg.
Waist circumference, which is a good indicator of belly fat, was reduced by 4.3 cm among the subjects in the healthy diet group, 6.8 cm for the Mediterranean diet group, and 8.6 cm for those on the green Med diet.
Low-density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol”, another risk factor for cardiovascular disease, was also measured.
The level of reduction for the healthy diet group was 0.2 mg/dl, for those on the Mediterranean diet it was 2.3 mg/dl (about 1 percent), and for those on the green Med diet 6.1 mg/dl, which is about 4 percent.
Moreover, the green Med showed a greater reduction in other cardiovascular disease and metabolic risk factors.
Participants in this group had lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, and decreased C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation).
Overall, the risk of heart disease was cut in half amongst those participants who were on the green Med diet.
The authors wrote:
“Education and encouragement to follow a green Med dietary pattern in conjunction with physical activity has the potential to be a major contributor to public health as it may improve balancing of cardiovascular risk factors, eventually preventing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
Our findings suggest that additional restriction of meat intake with a parallel increase in plant-based, protein-rich foods, may further benefit the cardiometabolic state and reduce cardiovascular risk, beyond the known beneficial effects of the traditional Mediterranean diet.”
The study was published in the journal Heart (Tsaban et al., 2020).