Just when you thought you were getting the hang of the Mediterranean diet (olive oil, nuts, fish…), scientists flip the script. New research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that people following the so-called green Mediterranean diet had a twofold increase in fasting ghrelin levels—the hormone that controls hunger and influences weight loss, says lead author Gal Tsaban, M.D.
So what’s the difference between the two?
“The green Mediterranean diet included the replacement of meat-based protein with mankai, a plant-based protein that’s also high in fiber, and increases the dose of dietary polyphenols,” compounds in green tea known to be rich in antioxidants that play a role in boosting insulin sensitivity, Dr. Tsaban says.
Beyond that, the two eating plans are very similar, with a focus on fresh produce, healthy fats, and complex carbs.
Green Mediterranean diet benefits
While the exact mechanisms by which ghrelin influences insulin production and fat loss are still being investigated, it’s clear most people looking to shed a few pounds will do better on the Green Med diet versus the original, says Dr. Tsaban.
How to make the switch to the green Mediterranean diet
Substitute lean beef with a plant-based alt (e.g., Impossible or Beyond Meat) and coffee with green tea. And know that if you’re following the green or traditional Med diet, you’re still eons ahead of those following neither in terms of health.
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