The green Mediterranean diet causes a significant reduction in visceral adipose tissue

The green Mediterranean diet causes a significant reduction in visceral adipose tissue

The Mediterranean Green Diet (MED) significantly reduces visceral adipose tissue, the type of fat around the internal organs that is much more dangerous than the extra “tire” around the waist. The green Mediterranean diet was pitted against the Mediterranean diet and a healthy diet in a large clinical intervention study – DIRECT PLUS. Subsequent analysis found that the green honey diet reduced visceral fat by 14%, the honey diet by 7% and the healthy diet by 4.5%. The study was published in BMC Medicine.

Reducing visceral fat is considered a true weight loss goal because it is a more important indicator than a person’s weight or waist circumference. Visceral fat accumulates between organs over time and produces hormones and toxins linked to heart disease, diabetes, dementia and premature death.

Research led Prof. Iris Shai from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, Associate Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Honorary Professor, University of Leipzig, Germany, together with his PhD student Dr. Hila Zelicha and Italian, German and American colleagues.

The DIRECT-PLUS research team was the first to present the concept of a green Mediterranean diet. This modified MED diet is further enriched with dietary polyphenols and is lower in red/processed meat than the traditional healthy MED diet. In addition to a daily intake of walnuts (28 grams), participants consumed 3-4 cups of green tea/day and 100 grams (frozen cubes) of a green watercress shake/day. The aquatic green plant duckweed is high in bioavailable protein, iron, B12, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols and a meat substitute.

The team has shown in previous studies that the green MED diet has a range of beneficial effects from the microbiome to age-related degenerative diseases.

Two hundred and ninety-four participants took part in the eighteen-month trial.

A healthy lifestyle is a solid foundation of any weight loss program. From the results of our experiment, we learned that the quality of food is no less important than the number of calories consumed, and today’s goal is to understand the mechanisms of different nutrients, for example, positive ones, such as polyphenols, and negative ones, such as empty carbohydrates and processed red meat , on the rate of differentiation of fat cells and their aggregation in the viscera.”

Prof. Iris Shai from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

“Reducing visceral fat by 14% is a dramatic achievement when making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Weight loss is only an important goal if it is accompanied by impressive results in reducing adipose tissue,” notes Dr. Hila Zelicha.


Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Link to journal:

Zelicha, H., et al. (2022) Effect of a high-polyphenol Mediterranean diet on visceral adiposity: the DIRECT PLUS randomized controlled trial. BMC Medicine.

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