The Mediterranean diet, loaded with the goodness of fruits and vegetables has been named the best diet of the year 2021. In fact, this is the 4th consecutive year it has made it to the U .S. news & World Report’s annual ranking.
But it seems a vegan diet is more effective for weight loss and helps in cholesterol control than a Mediterranean diet, as per a new study. As per the study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, a person can lose an average of six kilograms on a vegan diet, compared with no mean change on the Mediterranean diet.
“Previous studies have suggested that both Mediterranean and vegan diets improve body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors, but until now, their relative efficacy had not been compared in a randomised trial,” said researcher Hana Kahleova from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a non-profit organisation in the US.
The researchers stated that a low-fat vegan diet had “better outcomes for weight, body composition, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol levels”, compared with a Mediterranean diet.
A study comprised randomly assigned participants — who were overweight and had no history of diabetes — to a vegan diet or a Mediterranean diet in a 1:1 ratio.
For 16 weeks, half of the participants started with a low-fat vegan diet that eliminated animal products and focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
The other half started with the Mediterranean diet, which followed the PREDIMED protocol that focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy, and extra virgin olive oil while limiting or avoiding red meat and saturated fats.
While it was found that the vegan diet decreased total and LDL cholesterol levels by 18.7 mg/dL and 15.3 mg/d, respectively, there were no significant cholesterol changes on the Mediterranean diet.
Blood pressure decreased on both diets, but more on the Mediterranean diet, the researchers said.
What is a Mediterranean Diet?
A Mediterranean diet means eating in the way that the people in the Mediterranean region traditionally ate.
A traditional diet from the Mediterranean region includes a generous portion of fresh produce, whole grains, and legumes, as well as some healthful fats and fish.
The general guidelines of the diet recommend that people eat:
- a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- healthful fats, such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil
- moderate amounts of dairy and fish
- very little white meat and red meat
- few eggs
- red wine in moderation
The American Heart Association notes that the average Mediterranean diet contains a high percentage of calories from fat.
Although more than half of the calories from fat come from monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, the diet may not be right for people who need to limit their fat intake.