Green Mediterranean Diet Reduces Liver Fat
January 27, 2021
The Times of Israel — BGU researchers and their collaborators at Harvard say they’ve adapted the Mediterranean diet to make it twice as effective in eliminating liver fat by tweaking the traditional regimen to include special greens.
“Over 20 years, our research team has shown through rigorous, randomized long-term trials that the Mediterranean diet, rich with wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, and nuts, is the healthiest,” says BGU’s Prof. Iris Shai.
“Now, we have found that specific changes to this diet can cause a big reduction in liver fat,” says Shai, an expert epidemiologist in BGU’s School of Public Health.
The study conducted by Shai, who is also an adjunct professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Gut. Several Harvard scholars were involved in the study.
In an 18-month 294-participant study conducted in southern Israel, two-thirds of participants ate a Mediterranean diet and exercised regularly. They lost weight in similar amounts,
“Even though the Mediterranean diet and the green Mediterranean diet led to equal weight loss overall, fat loss in the liver was doubled among those who had the green diet,” Shai says.
“The liver is so important for general human health, and fatty liver disease has wide implications, but there’s a lack of drug treatments and a lack of dietary protocol beyond general weight loss, which makes this finding important.”
The modified diet aims for high levels of polyphenols, organic compounds produced by plants, seemingly to protect themselves from stress.
One of the items in the diet is an aquatic plant called mankai which an Israeli company, Hinoman, is marketing as a superfood. Shai is an advisor to the company.
The diet is rich in vegetables, includes a daily intake of walnuts (28 grams) and less meat than a regular Mediterranean diet. It is enriched with green items including three to four cups of green tea per day and 100 grams of a mankai green shake.
Shai says, “We believe there are components like polyphenols and fibers that modify the microbiome which make this diet help with cleaning fat from the liver.”