What is the green Mediterranean diet? If you have been researching the Mediterranean diet, you may have come across the term ‘green Mediterranean diet’. And if you are like me, you kept scrolling because you believed it was eating all green foods…Well, it is actually much more than that and involves drinking 3 cups a day of a specific beverage and incorporating a water plant into your diet every day.
Wild, right? So let’s learn all there is to know about this green diet, and how you can start the new green Mediterranean diet today!
It involves eating very specific foods every day and pretty much cutting out whole food groups. So if this is not something that you are interested in, no worries, I’ve got plenty of other regular Mediterranean diet posts that you will love! And since this is a Mediterranean diet food blog, I’ve also got a ton of recipes!
What Is The Green Mediterranean Diet?
The traditional Mediterranean diet is a healthy diet and lifestyle change that is meant to improve overall health. Produce and whole grains are highly encouraged, animal products like red meat can be enjoyed on occasion and processed foods should be limited as much as possible.
When following the green MedDiet, red and processed meats are completely removed from the subject’s diet. Whole fruits and vegetables become the staple of the diet, with legumes and healthy grains still offered, but taking a back seat to the produce.
The biggest change, other than omitting red meat entirely from your diet is the addition of three very specific foods:
Evidence Behind The Green Mediterranean Diet
So you may be wondering why these specific foods are required. Well, The Effects of Green Mediterranean Diet on Cardiometabolic Risk was a randomized control trial published in 2020. The study determined that following this diet for six months, when compared to a standard Mediterranean diet, resulted in a greater decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, and a decrease in homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance.
294 participants were put into three different groups:
Along with being instructed in dietary changes, they also incorporated exercise into their daily lives.
While both Mediterranean diets achieved similar weight loss,11.9 to 13.6 pounds, in comparison to the healthy dietary guidance group which only lost 3.3 lbs, the green Mediterranean diet group did have a much greater reduction in waist circumference (-8.6 cm) than the standard Mediterranean diet group(-6.8) and the HDG (-4.3 cm) groups.
Interestingly enough, stratification by gender showed that these differences were significant only among men. Of course, right?
A protein in the blood that can help determine if a person is at risk for heart disease and stroke decreased by almost double when looking at the standard MedDiet vs the green MedDiet.
And the green Mediterranean diet group improved their Framingham risk assessment score (a measure of expected cardiovascular disease risk after 10 years) to a -3.7% risk reduction, where the standard MedDiet was a -2.3% risk reduction and the HDG was a -1.4% reduction.
The Green Mediterranean Diet and Fatty Liver Disease
There was a controlled trial done titled Effect of green-Mediterranean diet on intrahepatic fat: the DIRECT PLUS randomised controlled trial, where they examined the effectiveness of the green Mediterranean diet on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by measuring intrahepatic fat (IHF) loss.
In the 18-month randomized clinical trial, NAFLD prevalence declined to: 54.8% in the healthy dietary guidance group, 47.9% in the standard MedDiet diet group, and 31.5% in the green MedDiet diet group.
As for intrahepatic fat (the fat inside of the liver), the green MedDiet group achieved almost double IHF% loss as compared with the standard MedDiet, from 19.6% to 38.9% fat loss.
Why Does The Green Mediterranean Diet Work So Well?
High levels of Polyphenols are likely one of the major reasons why the green Mediterranean diet has been shown to make such astounding improvements in the health of certain individuals. In the liver study, after 18 months, both MedDiet groups had significantly higher total plasma polyphenol levels versus the HDG group. Polyphenols are antioxidants that help fight free radicals and disease in the body.
Foods like Mankai (duckweed), green tea, nuts, and olive oil are all high in polyphenols and are specifically consumed on the green MedDiet. Duckweed is particularly rich in protein, choline, folate, iron, and vitamin B12, making it a great substitute for red meat.
And of course, eating a mostly plant based diet will always fuel your body with significant amounts of vitamins and minerals, giving you more energy and many health benefits.
My Personal Take Away
I have to admit, I was astounded to read some of the research that came out regarding the benefits of the green Mediterranean diet. I was a little disappointed to find out that both studies referenced above were funded by the California Walnuts Commission.
If I had to make an educated guess, I am assuming that a handful of any heart-healthy nuts will likely give a similar outcome.
Also, I don’t know about you, but 3-4 cups of green tea a day seems like a LOT, especially since I drink coffee in the mornings. I’m not sure that I want that much caffeine in my body.
So, am I going to try the green Mediterranean diet? Sort of.
I am going to start trying to drink 1 cup of green tea a day. I will start here and see how I feel before I increase to 2-3 cups. I am also going to purchase some Mankai and I will try to make a smoothie with it at least 3 days a week.
It is super important to give yourself some grace when it comes to any ‘diet’ that emphasizes specific eating habits. I am not great at sticking to habits, so giving myself leeway and allowing myself to experiment and see what I like about the green MedDiet before I jump in head first will help eliminate any feelings of failure if I fall off track.
Where To Get Mankai
After doing a lot of research, the only brand that I could find that currently sells duckweed for smoothies is Vinatura Duckweed & Greens Powder. If I am able to find more, I will update this post and I will link them. If you have any recommendations, drop them in the comments, because I would love to know!