Posted on Jan 16, 2020, 5 p.m.
According to a study published in the Journal of Hepatology conducted by researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel working in collaboration with teams in Germany and America those looking to lower their hepatic fat deposit may do better following a low carb Mediterranean diet; findings suggest this type of diet had a greater effect on reducing fat around the liver, heart, and pancreas compared to low fat diets with similar calorie counts.
278 obese participants were randomly divided into two groups: one group was assigned a low fat diet and the other a low carbohydrate Mediterranean Diet to follow for 18 months. Full body magnetic resonance imaging scans were conducted on all subjects to map their fat deposits before, during, and after the 18 month period to analyze the effects of the assigned diets on body fat distribution.
Both groups experienced reductions in hepatic fat, but those in the low carb Mediterranean group recorded significantly greater reduction in their hepatic fat deposits, as well as decreases in associated risks for cardiovascular disease factors such as metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and Type-2 diabetes.
“In this 18-month intervention trial, Mediterranean/low-carbohydrate diet induced a greater decrease in hepatic fat content than [a] low-fat diet, and the beneficial health effects were beyond the favorable effects of visceral fat loss,” the researchers concluded.
A Mediterranean diet is drawn from the eating habits of those who live along the Mediterranean Sea areas, it incorporates habits and food types of nearby regions such as Italy, Greece, France, Turkey, Lebanon, and Portugal. While this meal plan does not have a strict menu per say it is typically characterized with generous amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, eggs, fish, and healthy fat, as well as the odd consumption of a glass of wine.
Foods primarily consumed include:
- Whole grains such as whole wheat, rye, oats, barley, bulgur, miller, and couscous; pasta and bread is permitted provided they be whole grain.
- Greeny leafy vegetables such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, lettuce, cabbage, collard greens, chicory, mustard greens, broccoli, nettle leaves, and dandelion greens.
- Root crops and other veggies such as carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, beets, radishes, celery root, sweet potatoes, artichokes, okra, mushrooms, and pumpkin.
- Fresh fruits such as lemons, limes, melons, peaches, pears, apples, pomegranates, clementines, grapes, figs, dates, berries, and apricots.
- Legumes, nuts, and seeds such as peas, chickpeas, almonds, lentils, green beans, kidney beans, fava beans, peas, sesame seeds, walnuts pistachios, and hazelnuts.
- Fatty fish such as wild caught tuna, herring, salmon, sea bream, and sardines as well as shellfish and seafood like abalone, crabs, oysters, squid, octopus, and mussels from clean waters.
- Healthy fats come from sources such as olives and avocados.
- Fermented dairy products in low to moderate amounts of brie, feta, ricotta, chevre, halloumi, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino, and Greek yogurt.
- Eggs are common from free range ducks, quail, and chickens.
- Meat is limited to leaner cuts of grass fed goat, pork, lamb, mutton, and beef.
- Poultry is common coming from free range and organically fed ducks and chicken.
This type of diet focuses primarily on free range, organic, and natural food products which have been noted to be rich in nutrient content. According to research a Mediterranean diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, and monounsaturated fats. With many studies backing it’s healthy benefits it may be worth having a discussion with your physician or certified medical professional about to see if it may be right for you.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.