- According to existing research, vegan and Mediterranean diets are both good for our health
- These diets have, however, never been directly compared with each other, until now
- A recent study has found that a vegan diet is better for improving weight and cholesterol levels
Vegan diets are also known as being beneficial for health in general and promoting weight loss – but the two diets have never been compared to establish which one of the two is most effective.
This led a team of researchers to run a randomised crossover trial in order to compare the effectiveness of the two diets.
“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,” study author Hana Kahleova confirmed.
Low-fat vegan versus PREDIMED Mediterranean
The study involved 65 overweight adults who were assigned to either a Mediterranean diet or a low-fat vegan diet for a period of 16 weeks.
The Mediterranean diet was in line with PREDIMED protocol, which means it was characterised by the consumption of vegetables, fresh fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds, certain white meats, low-fat dairy and fish.
The low-fat vegan diet (∼75% of energy from carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 10% fat) consisted of vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruits.
Participants of both groups attended classes to equip them to appropriately prepare their food, as well as teach them how to maintain their diets when travelling or eating at restaurants.
Weight loss, body fat and cholesterol levels after 16 weeks
After 16 weeks on the diets, it was found that participants who followed the vegan diet had better outcomes than those following the Mediterranean diet.
Participants of the vegan diet saw a six-kilogram average decrease in body weight, compared to no average change in those on the Mediterranean diet.
Those on the vegan diet also lost about 3.4kg of body fat and saw a greater reduction in LDL cholesterol. The researchers expressed that a possible reason why the Mediterranean diet was not as helpful with weight loss was due to the inclusion of fatty fish, dairy and oil.
“While many people think of the Mediterranean diet as one of the best ways to lose weight, the diet actually crashed and burned when we put it to the test,” said Neal Barnard, who is an author of the study.
Dr Kahleova added: “If your goal is to lose weight or get healthy in 2021, choosing a plant-based diet is a great way to achieve your resolution.”
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