Read time: 6 min.
Issue 08 * 20 January 2024

The Green Mediterranean Diet: An Even More Powerful Way to Prevent Illness

Discover the benefits of the Green Mediterranean Diet, which may help lower blood pressure, reduce insulin resistance, and promote the loss of visceral fat.

Claudia Le Feuvre

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Researchers have long extolled the virtues of the Mediterranean diet for its numerous health benefits. It's a way of eating that emphasises whole foods, healthy fats, and an abundance of fruit and vegetables. However, more recently, scientists have been exploring the potential benefits of a greener version of this diet, one that's even higher in green plant food sources and potential health benefits. In this article, we'll delve into the concept of the Green Mediterranean Diet and how it can contribute to personal well-being.

What makes the Green Mediterranean Diet different?

Both the standard Mediterranean Diet (Med) and the Green Mediterranean Diet (Green Med) include foods that fight inflammation and have antioxidants. However, the Green Med has a unique feature: the Green Med includes daily consumption of green tea, walnuts, and powdered greens. These foods are packed with healthy polyphenols, which play a crucial role in the potential health benefits of this greener Mediterranean diet. The Green Med approach also focuses more on legumes and less red meat.

Polyphenols: the Green Med Diet's secret weapon

Polyphenols are natural compounds found in many plant foods. Recent studies have highlighted the remarkable impact of polyphenols on overall health and their role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

A significant study revealed the Green Med Diet's unique advantage. Those following this diet had notably higher levels of polyphenols in their blood and urine, mainly due to the intake of polyphenol-rich green tea, walnuts, and greens powder. This led to a more pronounced reduction in visceral fat among those in the Green Med group. (Visceral fat is fat that surrounds the body’s organs.)

Polyphenols work through several mechanisms, helping prevent chronic diseases:

Fat control: Polyphenols may help prevent the body from absorbing too much fat after eating, potentially aiding weight management and a healthier body composition.

Blood sugar regulation: Some polyphenols can help improve the body's ability to use glucose in muscle cells, helping to manage blood sugar levels.

Reducing fat tissue: Polyphenols may interfere with the growth of new blood vessels in fat tissue, potentially reducing the expansion of fat stores.

Anti-inflammatory effects: Chronic inflammation is a significant factor in various chronic diseases. Polyphenols have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce this risk.

Polyphenol-rich foods: a wide variety to choose from

Polyphenols are found in a range of foods, so it's easy to include them in your daily diet whether you choose to follow a Green Med approach or not. Here are some examples of foods rich in polyphenols:

  • Berries
  • Artichokes
  • Red onions
  • Spinach
  • Flaxseeds
  • Tea, especially green tea
  • Cocoa (dark chocolate)
  • Herbs and spices
  • Olives
  • Nuts

Transition to a Green Med approach

Transitioning to the Green Med Diet is accessible and adaptable to individual preferences and dietary requirements. Here are some practical steps to start incorporating this green and sustainable approach into your life:

1. Prioritise green plant foods: Begin by adding more green vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli to your meals. These foods should form a substantial part of your plate. If you don’t like eating greens or feel you aren’t eating enough of them, an option is to introduce a powered greens supplement. (Please always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking a new supplement.)
2. Embrace proteins: Incorporate more plant-based protein sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and tofu. Reduce red meat consumption, but continue to enjoy some poultry and oily fish, white fish and eggs.
3. Choose whole grains and healthy fats: Opt for whole grains like quinoa and brown rice, and use healthy fats like olive oil and avocados in your cooking and salads.
4. Support local and seasonal produce: Whenever possible, purchase locally sourced and seasonal fruits and vegetables. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with food transportation and supports local agriculture.
5. Reduce food waste: Practice mindful meal planning, storage, and consumption to minimise food waste, contributing to a more sustainable food system.

Conclusion: a healthier future with simplicity
As research continues to reveal the potential health advantages of different diets, the Green Med Diet offers a simple way to enhance overall well-being and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. With its unique emphasis on polyphenol-rich foods like green tea, walnuts, and powdered greens, this dietary approach can be a powerful tool for maintaining good health.

By including polyphenol-rich foods in your daily meals, you can tap into the potential benefits of these compounds and take significant steps towards a healthier and more vibrant life. The Green Med Diet, with its combination of traditional Mediterranean foods and polyphenol-rich additions, offers an appealing and nutritious path to a future filled with well-being and vitality.