New research shows how effective a green Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of non-alcoholic fatter liver disease (NAFLD). According to a long-term clinical intervention trial led by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers and a team of international colleagues, this specific type of diet is far superior to others for reducing intrahepatic fat.
The findings published in Gut, a leading international journal focused on gastroenterology and hepatology, show how the green Mediterranean diet is the liver’s healthiest. The results were concluded by the research team analyzing long-term randomized trials over the past 20 years.
It is estimated that 25 – 30% of people in the United States are affected by NAFLD. While some fat is considered normal in the liver, excessive fat (5% or higher) leads to cardiovascular risk, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, decreased gut microbiome diversity, and microbial imbalance. Currently, no drug can treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The only intervention is weight loss and the reduction of alcohol consumption.
“Addressing this common liver disease by targeted lifestyle intervention might promote a more effective nutritional strategy,” says Dr. Anat Yaskolka-Meir, first author of the study. “This clinical trial demonstrates an effective nutritional tool for NAFLD beyond weight loss.”
For the main study, 294 participants in their fifties, all with abdominal obesity, were followed for 18 months. They were divided into three groups: healthy dietary regimen, Mediterranean diet, and green Mediterranean diet. All participants were also required to follow a physical exercise regimen. The participants underwent MRI scans to quantify the exact proportion of excess intrahepatic fat before and after the trial.
The study concluded that every diet led to liver fat reduction. However, the green Mediterranean diet showed the greatest reduction of hepatic fat (-39%). This was compared to the traditional Mediterranean diet (-20%) and the healthy dietary guidelines (-12%).
The Green Mediterranean Diet
The modified Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables but lowers the processed and red meat consumption. It also includes a daily intake of walnuts. This diet is high in polyphenols and includes three to four cups of green tea/day and 100 grams of a Mankai green shake. Mankai, an aquatic green plant also known as duckweed, is high in bioavailable protein, iron, B12, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols.
When researchers broke down the findings, it was clear that greater Mankai and walnut intake and less red/processed meat intake were significantly associated with the extent of IHF loss, after controlling for other variables. Both Mediterranean diet groups showed a significant rise in total plasma polyphenol levels. Specifically, polyphenols, which are found in walnuts and Mankai, were detected in the green MED group.
This led researchers to hypothesize that polyphenols’ effect and the reduction in red meat play a large role in liver fat reduction. For reduced risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, try a green Mediterranean diet today!