At present, the Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest diets that provide multiple benefits to the heart as well as aiding in losing weight. This diet comes from the original diets of people native to the Mediterranean regions including Southern Italy, Greece and Spain. A new study shows that a vegetarian diet too has a fair share of benefits to the heart and can help lose weight. The study was published in the latest issue of the journal Circulation.
The team of researchers looked at the effects of both diets on 107 healthy individuals who were overweight. They were followed up for a six-month study period. Half of this time, the individuals consumed Mediterranean diet and the other half of the time they consumed a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.
A lacto-ovo diet means a vegetarian diet that includes dairy milk products as well as eggs. Mediterranean diet typically includes fresh fruits and vegetables, oily fish, nuts, olive oil and whole grains along with lean proteins. A lacto-ovo diet excludes meat and fish. The diet of the participants was closely monitored and calories were reduced to suit the need of the individuals. Each of them underwent routine health checkups.
Results showed that both diets were as beneficial for health. They could reduce body weight, body mass index and fat mass equally. On an average those on vegetarian diets lost 1.88kg while those on Mediterranean diet lost a further 1.77kg. Vegetarian diet helped to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or LDL cholesterol effectively. LDL is associated with raised risk of strokes and heart attacks. Mediterranean diet effectively reduced triglyceride levels. This type of cholesterol is also detrimental to the heart leading to buildup of plaque and leading to heart attack.
Lead author Dr. Francesco Sofi explained that from this study it can be concluded that the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet can also help to improve some of the risk factors for heart disease provided it is prepared and advised by a nutritionist. He said that this diet is feasible and fairly simple to follow.