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Mackie: Once again Mediterranean diet a winner for weight loss, health

Participants, who followed the Mediterranean diet, lost a little more than six and half pounds on average over twelve months.
Credit: Adobe Stock - Cherry Cappel

NEW ORLEANS — In January of 2020, research determined that individuals, who follow the Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting, or the Paleo diet will lose weight fairly quickly, “and reap profound health benefits – particularly ones pertaining to cellular vascular health.”

It appears that of the three food intake patterns, the Mediterranean diet proved to be the most sustainable. Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand note that the best diet is, “one that includes healthy foods and suits the individual.”

New Zealand investigators followed 250 participants over twelve months, who either chose intermittent fasting (54%), Mediterranean diet (27%), or the Paleo diet (18%) to lose weight.

It was determined that participants, who fasted, lost a little more than eight and a half pounds on average. Participants, who followed the Mediterranean diet, lost a little more than six and half pounds on average, while the median amount lost for those participants, who adhered to the Paleo diet, was just under four pounds.

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Of the three weight loss modes, the Paleo diet was the only diet that did not confer, “sizeable reductions in blood pressure and blood sugar levels.”

The Mediterranean diet participants incorporated fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread and cereal, legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil – with reduced amounts of fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy. Red meat was limited to once a week or less. 

Paleo followers excluded dairy, grains, and legumes. However, the version of the diet employed in the study permitted one daily serving of legumes and one daily serving of grain-based foods. Other than those two modifications, participants were advised to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, animal proteins, nuts, coconut products, and extra-virgin olive oil.

As for intermittent fasting group, the female followers consumed no more than 500 calories on two selected days per week, while men were permitted to limit their calorie intake to 600 calories, alongside the same time period, as the female participants.

At the study conclusion, “fifty-seven percent of participants kept on with the Mediterranean diet after 12 months, 54% continued to fast, and 35% remained on the Paleo diet.”

Once again, the research demonstrates the powerful health-promoting benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, especially the pescatarian or pesco-Mediterranean variation, with fish – salmon, anchovies, sardines and trout - as the principle meat source.