The Mediterranean diet is well regarded as one of the most heart healthy diets on the planet, but is a “greener” version of this diet the key to even greater levels of cardiovascular health? The original Mediterranean diet consists of wild-caught fish (as well as some meat and poultry), fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, moderate consumption of alcohol (such as 1 – 2 glasses of red wine with dinner), and monosaturated fats from olive oil. High-quality olive oil, the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, has been studied as a potential health factor to reduce all-cause mortality. This diet has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as other chronic illnesses.
Scientists have studied the cardiovascular and heart benefits of the Mediterranean diet for years and determined that there are benefits to the low carbohydrate, high dietary fiber, and antioxidant-containing foods that are the staples of this diet. However, researchers were interested in finding out whether supplementing this classic diet with “greener” foods could lead to more health benefits.
One research study grouped individuals based on diet and physical activity, then added nutrient-dense “green” foods including green tea, Mankai (an ancient green superfood), and walnuts to the diet of one group.1 This supplemented group also decreased red meat and poultry and ate higher quantities of plant-based foods, including multiple cups of green tea per day.
At the end of the study, researchers found that the group that consumed the “greener” version of the Mediterranean diet led to an overall larger weight loss than the original diet on its own. In addition, cholesterol levels became lower in the “green” group and other markers for cardiovascular and metabolic risk were also lowered.
The Bottom Line
The Mediterranean diet is packed with heart-healthy, low carbohydrate, low fat foods that can help amp up your overall health. Adding additional “green” elements including healthy greens, green tea, and nuts (such as walnuts) to the Mediterranean diet may help increase the benefits of this diet.
Have you considered adopting a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet for you and your family? If not, you can certainly choose to include more foods from the Mediterranean diet in your daily nutritional routine. Create a tasty menu with organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, wild-caught fish, and small amounts of extra virgin olive oil. Avoid or decrease eating poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. Avoid red meat entirely or eat it only rarely. In addition, avoid other health-destroyers such as processed meat, refined grains, refined oils, added sugars, and highly processed foods.
If you decide to try eating a full-fledged Mediterranean diet amplified with additional nutrients (as in the study), please let us know how it’s working. We’d love to hear from you. A votre santé!