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A panel of nutrition experts recently rated dozens of diets and cited the Mediterranean diet as the best diet of 2023. For good reason: Studies show that those who follow a Mediterranean diet tend to live longer, have a lower risk of chronic disease, and enjoy a better healthspan. The Mediterranean diet might even reverse your brain’s biological age, according to a recent study. But a less-discussed version of the Mediterranean diet called the Green Mediterranean diet might be even healthier.
What is the Green Mediterranean Diet?
The Green Mediterranean diet can be thought of as a fusion between the standard Mediterranean diet and a plant-based diet. It retains the wholesome foods of the Mediterranean but places greater emphasis on polyphenol-rich plant foods. According to cardiologist Steven Gundry, M.D., these plant foods are the secret to a healthier heart, brain, and body.
Like the Mediterranean diet, the Green Mediterranean diet promotes “good” Mediterranean foods but takes it a step further by avoiding red and processed meats completely. It highlights polyphenol-rich plant foods, including:
1. Mankai Duckweed Shake
- 100 grams of Mankai duckweed, a protein-rich aquatic plant.
2. Green Tea
- Three to four cups of green tea.
- One ounce of walnuts.
These additions serve to increase the intake of polyphenols, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, linked to a range of health benefits from cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer’s. The exclusion of red meat is also deliberate, as it contains neu5Gc, a molecule believed to exacerbate inflammation and chronic diseases.
What Can You Eat on the Green Mediterranean Diet?
If you can’t find Mankai duckweed, green tea, or walnuts, don’t worry. The focus should be on increasing your polyphenol intake as much as possible. In addition to the specific additions mentioned earlier, the Green Mediterranean diet includes the following foods:
- Green tea
- Mankai duckweed (or plant-based protein powder)
- Leafy greens
- Fruits and veggies
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
- Herbs and spices
- Fish (smaller fish like sardines or herring)
- Poultry (like chicken or turkey)
Eat in Moderation
- Eggs (no more than four per week)
- Dairy (no more than two servings a day)
- Red meat
- Processed meat (like salami, hot dogs, and bacon)
- Junk food (like chips, cookies, and cereal)
- Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
According to Gundry, the source of your food matters, too. Focus on wild fish over farmed, pasture-raised chicken over corn- or grain-fed, and colorful fruits and veggies which tend to be richer in polyphenols.
Benefits of the Green Mediterranean Diet
1. Supports Heart Health
A study published in “Heart” found that following the Green Mediterranean diet improved LDL (bad) cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, and inflammatory markers—important measures of heart health—more than the traditional Mediterranean diet.
2. Aids Weight Loss
The same “Heart” study discovered that participants who followed the Green Mediterranean diet lost more weight after six months compared to those on the traditional Mediterranean diet, even though both diets restricted calorie intake.
3. Boosts Gut Health
The Green Mediterranean diet benefits not only your heart but also your gut. A study linked the cardiometabolic advantages of the diet to significant changes in the gut microbiome. Polyphenols act as prebiotics, fueling healthy gut bacteria, which has a positive impact on overall health.
4. Improves Metabolic Health
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is closely linked to type 2 diabetes. Eating the Green Mediterranean diet may dramatically reduce liver fat levels, decreasing the risk of NAFLD.
5. Slows Brain Aging
For those looking to protect against cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s, the Green Mediterranean diet has been shown to protect against age-related brain atrophy.
6. Lengthens Healthspan
Since systemic inflammation is linked to nearly every chronic disease, by reducing inflammation, the Green Mediterranean diet can lengthen your healthspan—the healthy, disease-free years of your life.
In conclusion, the Green Mediterranean diet offers a twist on the classic Mediterranean diet by emphasizing polyphenol-rich plant foods and eliminating red meat. It has a wide range of health benefits, from improving heart health to extending your healthspan. By adopting this dietary approach, you can enjoy a healthier and more vibrant life.
1. How is the Green Mediterranean diet different from the standard Mediterranean diet?
The Green Mediterranean diet places greater emphasis on polyphenol-rich plant foods and completely eliminates red and processed meats, while the standard Mediterranean diet includes moderate consumption of red meat.
2. Where can I find Mankai duckweed?
Mankai duckweed can be challenging to find in the US, but other types of duckweed are commonly available in greens powders.
3. Can I still enjoy a glass of red wine on the Green Mediterranean diet?
Yes, the Green Mediterranean diet allows for modest amounts of red wine, which is a characteristic feature of the Mediterranean diet.
4. How does the Green Mediterranean diet affect weight loss?
Participants following the Green Mediterranean diet tend to lose more weight compared to those on the traditional Mediterranean diet, even when calorie intake is restricted to the same level.
5. What are the long-term effects of following the Green Mediterranean diet?
Following the Green Mediterranean diet can lead to improved heart health, better metabolic health, and a reduced risk of cognitive decline in the long term.
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