About The Buzz: A High Vegetable-Fat Mediterranean Diet Can Help with Weight Loss?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Sticking to a high vegetable-fat Mediterranean diet can aid weight loss, prevent weight gain and ward off midsection body fat.
WHAT WE KNOW
The Mediterranean diet, once mainly predominant in the Mediterranean countries of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain, has grown in popularity in recent years in other Western nations due to the many health benefits associated with this type of cuisine. The main aspects of the diet are an abundance of fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and olive oil. Small amounts of lean protein, such as chicken and fish, are consumed and serve as the primary of protein. Red meat is consumed rarely and enjoyed on special occasions rather than on a daily basis. Red wine is regularly consumed in moderation. Processed foods, refined flour and sugars are limited in the Mediterranean diet, and herbs and spices are used in place of salt to flavor meals.1
Research has shown that the primarily plant-based Mediterranean diet contributes to improved heart health, lower cholesterol, reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, diabetes, and various types of cancer.2 In addition, this type of diet can contribute to healthy weight loss and helps to lower body fat (also known as adiposity).
If you’re looking to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight or simply want to practice more health-conscious eating, this diet is a good one to try out. A new study, published in the June 2016 issue of The Lancet, highlights the correlation between the Mediterranean diet and weight loss. In the study, a 5-year, clinical controlled trial, nearly 7,500 older men and women in Spain were randomly assigned to three different diets. The first diet was the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil; the second diet was the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts; the third diet was a regular diet in which the study participants were advised to reduce dietary fat. All individuals who participated in the study were men and women between the ages of 60-80 and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or had three or more cardiovascular disease risk factors. Study participants were not advised to increase their current level of physical activity and were not advised to limit their caloric intake.
RESULTS OF THE STUDY
At the very beginning of the study and every year after, the participants’ weight and waist circumference were measured. Over the course of the 5 years, individuals randomized to the two types of Mediterranean diet showed a slight bodyweight decrease at the end of the study compared to the regular diet, instead of weight gain. The Mediterranean dieters who incorporated more olive oil into their daily diets saw an average of one pound lost (0.94 lbs.) and the nutty Mediterranean dieters saw an average of 0.17 lbs. lost. Both groups saw slight decreases in waist circumference.
Overall, this study was not aiming to help the participants lose weight or lower their body fat. Instead, this study aimed to demonstrate that healthy fats can be consumed and enjoyed on a daily basis without causing weight gain or increasing waist circumference. Despite the high caloric density of olive oil and nuts, the Mediterranean diet is low in other high-calorie processed foods that, unlike healthy fats found in olive oil and nuts, do not offer any nutritional benefits. Healthy fats should be enjoyed on a daily basis, in moderation, as part of a healthful, nutritionally balanced diet.
If you would like to learn more about this study, visit The Lancet to access the article. To learn more about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, be sure to read our recent article on relationship between olive oil, nuts and cardiovascular disease.
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