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.
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 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.
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: