Scientific Weight Loss Study: Green Mediterranean Diet Reduces Twice As Much Visceral Fat

In Health


Obesity Weight Loss

According to a study in the peer-reviewed medical journal BMC Medicine, the green Mediterranean diet significantly reduces visceral fat. In fact, it reduced visceral fat by twice as much as the regular Mediterranean diet.

The Green Mediterranean diet reduces twice as much visceral fat as the Mediterranean diet.

Reducing visceral fat is the true goal of weight loss.

The green Mediterranean diet (MED) significantly reduces visceral adipose tissue, a type of fat around internal organs that is much more dangerous than the extra “tire” around your waist. The green Mediterranean diet was pitted against the Mediterranean diet and a healthy diet in a large-scale clinical interventional trial- the DIRECT PLUS. Subsequent analysis found that the green Med diet reduced visceral fat by 14.1%, the Med diet by 6.0%, and the healthy diet by 4.2%. The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine.

The green-Mediterranean diet is a modified Mediterranean diet that is further enriched with dietary polyphenols (beneficial plant compounds with antioxidant properties) and lower in red/processed meat.

Reducing visceral fat is considered the true goal of weight loss as it is a more important indicator than a person’s weight or the circumference of their waist. Visceral fat aggregates over time between organs and produces hormones and poisons linked to heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and premature death.

The research was led by Prof. Iris Shai of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, an adjunct Professor from the Harvard School of Public Health, and an Honorary Professor, University of Leipzig, Germany, together with her doctoral student Dr. Hila Zelicha and Italian, German, and American colleagues.

The DIRECT-PLUS trial research team was the first to introduce the concept of the green-Mediterranean diet. This modified MED diet is further enriched with dietary polyphenols and lower in red/processed meat than the traditional healthy MED diet. On top of a daily intake of walnuts (28 grams), the participants consumed 3-4 cups of green tea/day and 100 grams (frozen cubes) of duckweed green shake/day. The aquatic green plant duckweed is high in bioavailable protein, iron, B12, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols and substituted meat intake.

Mediterranean Diet Food Portrait

The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the eating habits of people who live near the Mediterranean Sea. The core elements of this diet include proportionally high consumption of unprocessed cereals, legumes, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables, and moderate consumption of fish, dairy products (mostly cheese and yogurt), and meat products.

The team has shown in previous studies that the green MED diet has a variety of salutary effects ranging from the microbiome to age-related degenerative diseases.

Two hundred and ninety-four participants took part in the 18-month-long trial.

“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.

“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,” notes Dr. Hila Zelicha.

Reference: “The effect of high-polyphenol Mediterranean diet on visceral adiposity: the DIRECT PLUS randomized controlled trial” by Hila Zelicha, Nora Kloting, Alon Kaplan, Anat Yaskolka Meir, Ehud Rinott, Gal Tsaban, Yoash Chassidim, Matthias Bluher, Uta Ceglarek, Berend Isermann, Michael Stumvoll, Rita Nana Quayson, Martin von Bergen, Beatrice Engelmann, Ulrike E. Rolle-Kampczyk, Sven-Bastiaan Haange, Kieran M. Tuohy, Camilla Diotallevi, Ilan Shelef, Frank B. Hu, Meir J. Stampfer and Iris Shai, 30 September 2022, BMC Medicine.
DOI: 10.1186/s12916-022-02525-8

This work was funded by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – Project number 209933838- SFB 1052; the Rosetrees trust (grant A2623); Israel Ministry of Health grant 87472511; Israel Ministry of Science and Technology grant 3-13604; and the California Walnuts Commission.

None of the funding providers was involved in any stage of the design, conduct, or analysis of the study and they had no access to the study results before publication.





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