Sticking with the Mediterranean diet is one of the best decisions you can make for your health – but now, there’s an even better way to eat. The green Mediterranean diet, a more plant-focused spin on the traditional Med diet, can help you achieve better health from head to toe. And it’s not too different from the Mediterranean basics you already know so well.
If you’re hoping to make big changes to your health, going green could be just what you need. With an emphasis on plant-based foods and the inclusion of good-for-you (and green!) ingredients like walnuts, green tea, and green superfood wolffia globosa, you could make positive progress for your heart health, your liver, and your overall well-being.
Here are five ways going green can lead to big health benefits.
1. A lower risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is growing increasingly more common around the world, and it’s the most common chronic liver disease in the U.S. – it affects one-fourth of Americans. This dangerous condition appears when there’s too much fat stored in your liver’s cells. Over time, it brings on serious complications like liver failure and liver cancer.
Following the green Mediterranean diet can reduce your risk for developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. According to research published in January 2021, switching to the plant-focused principles of this diet increases your intake of green plants that are high in polyphenols. In turn, this can reduce the amount of intrahepatic fat (IHF). That’s the fat that can lead to fatty liver disease.
When research participants followed the green Mediterranean diet, they saw their liver health improve significantly. Participants’ prevalence of fatty liver disease decreased anywhere from 31.5 percent to 54.8 percent.
Researchers believe this shows there’s a connection between decreasing red meat consumption and increasing the hallmark foods of the green Mediterranean diet. Putting plant-based proteins and foods above red meat could be key to keeping the liver in better health.
2. Decreases in high blood pressure
The Mediterranean diet is a huge ally for cardiovascular health. But research shows that when it comes to indicators of distress like high blood pressure, going green could be even more beneficial for your heart.
Research shows that high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure can be a red flag when it comes to your heart health, but it’s often tied to what you’re eating. Give the green Mediterranean diet a try, and you could potentially get this contributing risk factor under better control.
In the very first research study conducted on the green Mediterranean diet in 2020, researchers found that those who stuck with this way of eating for six months saw a significant decline in unhealthy blood pressure levels.
Making green Mediterranean changes in your eating habits can help you alter your health in ways that directly affect your blood pressure. For example, this diet promotes weight loss and reduces your intake of blood pressure-increasing foods. It also helps shrink waist circumference – or helps you lose weight around your belly – which can be linked to your blood pressure.
3. Lower cholesterol levels
In addition to helping lower high blood pressure, the green Mediterranean diet can also help you reduce another dangerous indicator of cardiovascular health: high cholesterol.
Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol increases your risk for heart-related problems and cardiovascular disease in particular. Over time, high cholesterol can build up within the arteries, narrowing and limiting blood flow; it can even lead to complete blockages. Heart attacks and strokes are just two examples of its dangers.
When you eat in accordance with the guidelines of the green Mediterranean diet, you may be able to reverse your high cholesterol to a degree. After six months of following the green Mediterranean diet, researchers found that, like with blood pressure, participants saw a four percent decline in their LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels.
This drop in LDL cholesterol is thought to be the result of an increase in plant-based foods. The weight loss spurred by the green Mediterranean diet likely also plays a role.
4. Decreased risk for insulin resistance and diabetes
Diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes, is one of the biggest health concerns facing adults in the U.S. – and it’s brought on by insulin resistance. When your cells stop responding to insulin properly, insulin resistance can occur. This leads to rising blood sugar levels, prediabetes or the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Eating healthy is a one way to combat insulin resistance and prevent it from happening. However, the green Mediterranean diet in particular holds promise for this common health problem.
Research shows that going green can lead to lower insulin levels and decreased fasting blood sugar levels. These two changes, which were found in every study participant, created more control over individual blood sugar. That alone can decrease your risk of developing diabetes.
Researchers believe that two particular components of the green Mediterranean diet help with blood sugar and insulin resistance: green tea and wolffia globosa supplements. These two items can offer benefits for your glucose and keep blood sugar stable between meals.
5. Reduced artery hardening
Another beneficial change the green Mediterranean diet can make for your cardiovascular health is a lower risk of artery hardening. While some of the other factors mentioned here – high blood pressure and cholesterol primarily – can lead to artery hardening, this new diet had a particularly positive impact on the factors that cause your arteries to harden.
In addition to the other benefits of the green Mediterranean diet, researchers also saw participants’ levels of C-reactive protein decrease. C-reactive protein is an inflammatory marker found in the blood’s plasma. Having higher levels of this particular protein can increase your risk of developing artery hardening.
However, when following the principles of the green Mediterranean diet, it’s possible to significantly reduce both your C-reactive protein levels and your risk of developing serious heart disease. This diet has the potential to lower your 10-year Framingham Risk Score, or your likelihood of cardiovascular disease, significantly. In the original study, participants saw their scores fall at twice the rate compared to the traditional Mediterranean diet.
This is particularly good news for anyone who’s concerned about their heart health. Following the basics of the green Mediterran diet can help you make significant progress towards better cardiovascular health. Those benefits can grow even bigger the longer you stick with it.
Discover the benefits of the green Mediterranean diet for yourself
The green Mediterranean diet is even better for your overall health than the original Mediterranean diet. And, because there’s quite a bit of overlap between these two diets, you can take steps towards better health with small or significant changes.
The basics of the green Mediterranean diet are plant-based proteins, plenty of green vegetables, and the staples of the traditional Mediterranean diet, like whole grains, beans, nuts, and olive oil. You’ll also want to make sure you’re working the three most important “extras” in: green tea, wolffia globosa and walnuts.
One reason the green Mediterranean diet is so great: you can customize it to suit your needs. It doesn’t require you to completely eliminate animal-based proteins; you’ll just want to reduce or limit your intake of these protein sources in favor of plant-based options. Dairy products, like eggs and milk, are also fine in moderation. You can even tweak the Mediterranean diet if you’re already following it.
With steps like these, you can start working towards the health changes and improvements a green Med diet offers.