Green Mediterranean diet protects against blood vessel stiffness

April 30, 2023 in Healthy Eating, Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Green Mediterranean diet protects against blood vessel stiffness

The green Mediterranean diet has been shown to significantly regress proximal aortic stiffness (PAS), a hallmark of aging and increased cardiovascular risk.

The aorta is the largest artery in the body that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart. Aortic stiffness is a measure of the elasticity of the blood vessel wall; it occurs when the elastic fibres within the arterial wall (elastin) begin to fray due to mechanical stress.

About the study

The green Mediterranean diet was pitted against the healthy Mediterranean diet and a healthy guideline-recommended control diet in the DIRECT PLUS randomized controlled trial. Researchers found that the green Mediterranean diet regressed proximal aortic stiffness by 15%, the Mediterranean diet by 7.3% and the healthy dietary guideline-directed diet by 4.8%.  

This is the first time that scientists have presented a powerful, potent effect of diet on the age-related proximal aortic stiffness.  

DIRECT PLUS is a large-scale, 18-month clinical trial involving 300 participants.  The researchers used MRIs to measure aortic stiffness. 

What is the green Mediterranean diet?

The DIRECT-PLUS trial research team from Israel was the first to introduce the concept of the green-Mediterranean diet. This modified Mediterranean diet is distinct from the traditional Mediterranean diet due to its higher content of polyphenols, phytochemicals, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. On top of a daily intake of walnuts (28 grams), participants assigned to the green-Mediterranean diet consumed three to four cups of green tea and 1 cup of a green shake made from the Wolffia-globosa (duckweed) plant, which is very high in polyphenols.

The diet is also lower in red/processed meat than the traditional healthy Mediterranean diet.

Previous research has found that the green Mediterranean diet delivers other beneficial effects including reshaping the microbiome, slowing brain aging and regressing visceral fat

Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, April 17, 2023.

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