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Is a Green Mediterranean Diet Healthy for Your Heart?

A green Mediterranean diet relying on plant protein instead of meat or fish lowers LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and insulin resistance.
Is a Green Mediterranean Diet Healthy for Your Heart?
Fresh organic artichokes on farmers market in Paris France

Many previous studies have shown that following a Mediterranean diet has cardiovascular benefits. Such an eating pattern leans heavily on vegetables, fruits and whole grains and is light on meat and sweets. Mediterranean cooks rely on olive oil as their primary fat. Although loaded with vegetables, this eating plan is not a vegetarian diet. People following a Mediterranean dietary pattern frequently include fish and moderate amounts of poultry or even red meat. Now scientists have tested a “green” Mediterranean diet (Heart, Nov. 23, 2020). Most importantly, they found that substituting plant protein for the meat offers even more protection.

Studying the Green Mediterranean Diet:

Nearly 300 overweight individuals participated in this research, which was conducted in Israel. At the outset, the investigators assigned the volunteers to three different groups according to a randomization algorithm. They advised one group how to follow a standard heart healthy diet and encouraged them to be more active. This group served as the control panel. For the second group, the researchers gave instructions on a calorie-restricted traditional Mediterranean diet along with advice on physical activity. They also told the third group to exercise and showed those volunteers how to follow the green Mediterranean diet. In this eating pattern, participants substituted walnuts and duckweed as protein sources instead of meat. They also drank three to four cups of green tea daily if they followed the intervention plan closely. Both Medi diet groups ate an ounce of walnuts daily.

Reviewing the Study Results:

After six months, people following the green Mediterranean diet had lost more weight, almost 14 pounds, compared to nearly 12 pounds lost by those on the traditional Mediterranean diet. Those following the standard healthy diet as a control group lost around 3 pounds. In addition, those in the green Medi group reduced their inflammatory markers, blood lipids, diastolic blood pressure and insulin resistance. Consequently, those in the intervention group lowered their 10-year Framingham Risk Score the most. The investigators think this dietary pattern has the potential to be a major contributor to public health.

Learn More:

If you would like to know more about following a traditional Mediterranean diet, you may wish to read the detailed description in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. If we learn where you can purchase the frozen Mankai strain Wolffia globosa (duckweed) that the scientists used in their study, we will post it here. Readers in Israel may already be familiar with this product, but most Americans, including us, have not seen it in our groceries.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
  • Tsaban G et al, "The effect of green Mediterranean diet on cardiometabolic risk; a randomised controlled trial." Heart, Nov. 23, 2020. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/heartjnl-2020-317802
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