Some of the planet’s healthiest people live off the coast of the Mediterranean. Their diet, appropriately packaged as the Meditteranean diet, is associated with astonishingly low risks of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and metabolic syndrome.
The Mediterranean diet’s stellar health effects have led some doctors to consider it the “ideal diet” for health and longevity, and rank it healthiest compared to other popular diets. In a new nutrition study, researchers discovered that a few small tweaks may make the Mediterranean diet even more effective — at least for men.
The researchers say the so-called “green Med” diet — which drastically limits red meat intake and increases green plant intake — can boost metabolism and cardiovascular health when paired with physical activity. These findings were recently published in the journal Heart.
Currently, the Mediterranean diet is the “most scientifically supported” dietary pattern for reducing cardiovascular risk, study co-author Gal Tsaban tells Inverse. Tsaban is a researcher at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
“The results of the current study suggest that a green-MED diet may have even better metabolic effects, as compared to a diet following the healthy dietary guidelines and the traditional Mediterranean diet,” Tsaban says.
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HOW THIS AFFECTS LONGEVITY — Scores of studies suggest eating a plant-rich Mediterranean diet benefits the mind and body. Recent data also shows it can ramp up the metabolism and contribute to weight loss.
In this study, the team examined whether a greener version of the diet, meaning higher in green plant food sources and lower in red meat intake, could be even healthier.
The study included 294 people, but because only 35 of the particpants were women, the final results were limited to men. The average age of the group was 51-years-old, and the participants were classified as sedentary and moderately obese. They were randomly assigned into three dietary groups:
- The first group received guidance on boosting physical activity and basic guidelines for achieving a healthy diet.
- The second received the same physical activity guidance plus advice on following a calorie-restricted (1500-1800 calories per day for men and 1200-1400 calories per day for women) traditional Mediterranean diet. This diet was low in simple carbohydrates, rich in vegetables, with poultry and fish replacing red meat. It included 28 grams per day of walnuts.
- The third group received physical activity guidance, and were advised on how to follow a calorie-restricted green version of the Mediterranean diet. This included 28 grams per day of walnuts, three to four cups a day of green tea, limited red and processed meat, and higher quantities of plant foods. In an unusual twist, it also included 100 grams of frozen cubes of Wolffia globosa, a…