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Green Mediterranean diet even better for your heart health

In a study, a new greener version of the Mediterranean diet showed better results in terms of weight loss, cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors than the traditional one.

Mediterranean diet is associated with lower risk of various diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Key ingredients of the diet include fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It is also about a moderate intake of dairy foods, and a low consumption of meat and added sugar.

Now, researchers say a greener version of this diet, containing even more green plant food sources and very little red meat or poultry, might be even better for cardiovascular and metabolic health. In a study, the green Mediterranean diet, as the greener version of the diet is known, showed better results in terms of weight loss, cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors than the traditional version.

Green Mediterranean diet vs traditional version

For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 294 sedentary and moderately obese people (BMI of 31) with an average age of 51 into three dietary groups. All the groups followed the same physical activity guidance, along with their respective diet plans.

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The first group followed the basic guidance on achieving a healthy diet, while the second group was assigned a calorie-restricted traditional Mediterranean diet (1500-1800 kcal/day for men and 1200-1400 kcal/ day for women). The Mediterranean diet here was made low in simple carbohydrates, rich in vegetables, and included 28 g/day of walnuts. Besides red meat was replaced with poultry and fish.

The third group followed a similar calorie-restricted green version of the Mediterranean diet.

After six months, those on green Mediterranean lost 6.2 kg weight while those on traditional Mediterranean lost 5.4 kg and healthy diet 1.5 kg.

Waist circumference shrank by an average of 8.6 cm among those on the green Mediterranean diet compared with 6.8 cm for those on the traditional version and 4.3 cm for those on the healthy diet.

The green Mediterranean diet group also achieved larger drops in 'bad' low-density cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, insulin resistance and C-reactive protein, which has a key role in artery hardening.

Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that additional restriction of meat intake with a parallel increase in plant-based, protein-rich foods, may further reduce cardiovascular risk, beyond the known beneficial effects of the traditional Mediterranean diet.

Great greens of your Mediterranean diet

Leafy green vegetables are a hallmark of the Mediterranean diet. Dark, leafy greens contain an abundance of vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as bre, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium, but low in calories.

Studies have linked eating a diet rich in leafy greens to offer numerous health benefits such as reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and mental decline.

Here are some of the healthiest leafy green vegetables to include in your Mediterranean diet.

Kale: It is rich in minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, particularly vitamins A, C and K. Eat raw to reap the maximum benefits.

Collard Greens: This leafy vegetable is one of the best sources of vitamin K, which can help reduce blood clots and promote healthy bones.

Spinach: It is a versatile vegetable which can easily incorporated into a variety of dishes, including soups, sauces, smoothies and salads. Spinach is great source of folate, which plays a key role in red blood cell production.

Romaine lettuce: Research in animals found that romaine lettuce helps improve blood lipid levels, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.

Bok Choy: Bok choy contains selenium, which is known to play a key role in cognitive function, immunity and cancer prevention.

With inputs from IANS

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