For decades the Mediterranean diet has been the gold standard of healthy diets found around the world. Recently a study was conducted comparing a new green Mediterranean diet to the traditional Mediterranean diet and a standard healthy diet. In this article, I breakdown the results of this study, define what is the green Mediterranean diet, and provide a weekly meal plan.
The Green Mediterranean Diet is an updated version of the traditional Mediterranean diet. Replacing red meat with plant-based protein. Researchers have found that the new “green” version has health benefits that far surpass those found following the traditional Mediterranean diet or a standard healthy diet.
What Is The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating habits and cooking methods of the countries that border the Mediterranean sea, such as Italy, Greece, and Spain.
In the 1960s interest grew towards the Mediterranean diet when many studies indicated the connection to lower heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer, and overall mortality. The studies also indicated higher weight loss in those following the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet is more of an eating lifestyle than a strict diet regime. It’s easy to customize the Mediterranean diet towards your tastes and health goals. As long as you are following the framework you should be able to reap the benefits.
It’s important to note being physically active and, enjoying the social aspect of sharing meals with family and friends are also key elements to the Mediterranean diet.
An occasional glass of red wine is part of this lifestyle, along with water, coffee, and tea. All drinks do not include added sweeteners. I also wouldn’t encourage someone to start drinking alcohol for health purposes. If dinking an occasional glass of red wine while sharing a meal is something you enjoy it’s acceptable with this diet.
|EAT||EAT IN MODERATION||EAT RARELY||AVOID|
|vegetables||eggs||red meat||processed meats|
|fruit||cheese||foods with added sugars|
|whole grains||highly processed foods|
|extra virgin olive oil|
Is The Green Mediterranean Diet More Healthy?
In the past few months, the results of a study on the effect of the green Mediterranean diet on cardiometabolic risk were released.
The researchers found that people who consumed higher amounts of plant-based proteins and consumed less red meat and poultry experienced an increase in cardiovascular and metabolic benefits.
In the study, the researchers randomly assigned 294 sedentary people with moderate obesity (having a BIM of 31) into three dietary groups. The majority of the participants were male with an average age of 51.
The participants received guidance on boosting physical activity and basic guidelines for a healthy diet.
The participants received the same physical activity information plus advice on how to follow a calorie restricted, traditional mediterranean diet. This diet was low in simple carbohydrates, rich in vegetables, with poultry and fish replacing red meat.
The participents in the third group received the same guidance as the second group with the addition of 3-4 cups of green tea, 28 grams of walnuts a day, and 100 grams of a high protein seaweed added to a smoothie as a partial substitute for animal protein.
The Results Of The Green Mediterranean Diet Study
After six months the positive health results in the “green Mediterranean diet” group well surpassed the results achieved in the other two dietary groups.
The researchers did note that the findings suggest reducing meat consumption even more and replacing it with more plant-based proteins may benefit the cardiometabolic state even more.
The participants on both Mediterranean diet versions lost more weight than the standard diet group. The green Mediterranean diet group lost on average 13.6 lbs. The traditional Mediterranean diet group lost 11.9 lbs on average. The standard diet group lost 3.3 lbs.
Your health risks increase with the size of your waist circumference. According to the NIH, your health risks start to increase when a woman’s waist is above 35 inches and a man’s is above 40 inches.
Those on the green Mediterranean diet lost an average of 3.3 inches on their waistlines.
The traditional Mediterranean diet group lost 2.6 inches on average.
The standard diet group lost 1.6 inches.
The participants on the green Mediterranean diet saw the greatest reduction in their LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) with a nearly 4% decrease.
The traditional Mediterranean diet saw decrease near 1%.
The standard diet group had results less than 1%.
Other Measurable Health Benefits
The participants that followed both of the Mediterranean diets saw numerous amounts of health benefits.
Some participants saw decreases in blood pressure, insulin resistance, and C reactive protein which has an essential role in the hardening of the arteries.
The ratio of good HDL cholesertol and bad LDL cholesterol also increased.
What Is Different About The Green Mediterranean Diet?
The main difference between the traditional Mediterranean diet and the green Mediterranean diet is removing the red meat from the diet and replacing it with plant proteins (naturally found proteins, not the processed lab grown versions).
The green Mediterranean diet still includes fish, poultry, and dairy. These foods are to be eaten in moderation. When selecting animal products it’s best to look for organic and animals not treated with growth hormones.
What Can I Eat On A Green Mediterranean Diet?
Let’s dig into what we can eat following a green Mediterranean diet.
Potatoes, greens, onions, carrots, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, beets, turnips, radish, artichoke, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ginger, okra, peas, pumpkin, radicchio, rutabaga, shallot, tomatillo, corn
Apple, avocado, apricot, grapes, cherries, oranges, berries, banana, limes, lemon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, starfruit, kiwi, mango, papaya, plums, dates, figs, raisins, cranberries, persimmon, nectarine, peaches, passionfruit, guava, coconut, pineapple, pomegranate, pears, olives
Almond, cashew, pistachio, pecan, hazelnut, brazil nut, peanut, pine nut, walnut
Hemp, flax, chia, sunflower, seseame, pumpkin
Fats And Oils
Extra-virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, tahini, avocado oil
Split peas, lentils, chickpeas, black peas, cannelloni beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans
Whole oats, brown rice, barley, bulgar, corn, buckwheat, couscous, farro, quinoa, minimally processed whole-grain bread, and pasta
Dairy can be consumed in moderation. Keep your servings to around three times a week.
Cheese, yogurt, milk, eggs
You can still consume seafood on the green Mediterranean diet when consumed in moderation.
Anchovies, sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout, cod, shrimp, crab, oysters, mussels, clams, octopus
Consume in moderation.
Chicken, duck, turkey, game hens
Herbs And Spices
This list of herbs and spices that can be enjoyed is endless. Have fun and make your food delicious. Check out this link for an alphabetical list of herbs and spices.
I also really enjoy The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. This book tells you what herbs, spices, and vegetables work well together.
Honey, maple syrup (maple syrup isn’t a traditional Mediterranean food but, I’ve added it as a natural sweetener)
I wanted to talk about chocolate. There are many chocolate lovers out there and this delicious treat deserves to be mentioned. While chocolate isn’t a traditional Mediterranean food it can be considered a treat to enjoy in moderation.
Cocoa powder is ok to eat on a Mediterranean diet. Lots of treats can be made with cocoa powder. Mix ground nuts, cocoa powder, and dates for a tasty little bite.
When choosing a premade chocolate select dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa.
Green Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan
Always consult your doctor before making any major dietary changes. This menu plan is meant to give you ideas of what a week of eating a green Mediterranean diet would look like.
BREAKFAST: Blueberry Smoothie, Fried egg, Green salad
LUNCH- White bean dip with whole-grain pita chips, Olives, Cucumber and red pepper slices, Fruit
DINNER- Zucchini boats stuffed with quinoa, onions, garlic, mushrooms with a side of sliced tomatoes with olive oil, s&p, Side of fruit
BREAKFAST: Mango Smoothie, Veggie omelette
LUNCH- White bean dip with whole grain pita chips, Berries, Greens salad
DINNER- Vegetarian stuffed sweet potatos with black beans and avocado
BREAKFAST: Strawberry smoothie, Egg on whole grain toast
LUNCH- Broccoli & Quinoa with olive oil, garlic and hemp seeds, Side of fruit
DINNER- Homemade minestrone soup
BREAKFAST: Mixed berry smoothie, Fried egg with roasted sweet potato cubes
LUNCH- Split pea soup, Salad, Side of fruit
DINNER- Bruschetta on whole grain bread with a side of olives and fruit and white beans
BREAKFAST: Cherry Smoothie, Egg, Sauted onions, mushrooms, and zucchini
LUNCH- Homemade minestrone soup
DINNER- Roasted sweet potato chunks, Garlic roasted green beans, White bean salad (beans, olive oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, s&p), Berries
BREAKFAST: Blueberry smoothie, Egg, Roasted potatoes
LUNCH- Split pea soup, Salad, Side of fruit
DINNER- Stuffed peppers with rice, tomatoes, onions, garlic and white beans, Greens salad, Side of fruit
BREAKFAST: Mixed berry smoothie, Egg on whole grain toast
LUNCH: Black bean soup, Salad, Fruit
DINNER: Broccoli with baked potatos, Bean salad
- A serving of nuts
- Guacamole with vegetables
- Bean dip with vegetables
- Sliced apple with peanut butter
- Hummus and vegetables
- Green tea
- Turmeric and ginger tea
- Herbal teas
- Red White (in moderation)
Is A Green Mediterranean Diet For You?
I’m a big believer that everyone’s body is completely different and responds differently. What may be the perfect diet for one person may be the worst choice for someone else.
If you research healthy diets the one thing that’s common among them is the need to consume fruits and vegetables. Even if the entire green Mediterranean diet isn’t a match for you aiming to consume more fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins is a step in a healthier direction.
Speak with your doctor before making a complete overhaul of your diet to make sure it’s done safely.
Research has found that eating a “green Mediterranean diet” which replaces the red meat in traditional Mediterranean diets with natural plant-based proteins results in higher weight loss, a smaller waistline, lower LDL cholesterol, decreases in blood pressure, insulin resistance, and C reaction protein in comparison to those who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet or standard healthy diet.