Why Must You Try The Green Mediterranean Diet?

    mediterranean diet

    Martin Alvarez

    Martin Alvarez
    Nutritionist/Dietitian Professional Guide

    Updated on 12/3/2022

    You already might be familiar with one of the healthiest diets, one of the most popular diets in the world. That would be the Mediterranean diet, which is an eating plan that emphasizes the consumption of whole grains, fruits, fish, legumes, vegetables, and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil, and which also allows for small amounts of dark chocolate and red wine. Registered dietitians tend to praise this eating pattern for its benefits to both the heart and the body's weight, as it restricts the consumption of red meat, processed foods, and added sweets. For example, in 2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Green Mediterranean diet as number one in Best Plant-Based Diets, Best-Heart Healthy Diets, Best Diabetes Diets, Best Diets for Healthy Eating, and Best Diets Overall for 2021. Additionally, in 2021, the Mediterranean diet was ranked No. 1 in Easiest Diets to Follow. to the pointing arrow

    But could the Mediterranean diet get even better? Perhaps, according to a study published in Heart in November of 2020. to the pointing arrow. In the randomized controlled trial, the researchers found that adhering to a "green" Mediterranean diet for six months resulted in a more significant decrease in measures of "bad" LDL cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure (the second number on a blood pressure reading), and inflammatory markers compared with adhering to general healthy diet advice or following a traditional Mediterranean diet. The "green" Mediterranean diet also resulted in lower average blood pressure than the traditional Mediterranean diet (the control group). Although both groups lost about the same weight throughout the study (14 pounds in the green group and 12 pounds in the traditional group on average), the men in the green Mediterranean diet group experienced a greater reduction in waist circumference than those in the traditional group.

    mediterranean diet

    What exactly is meant by the term "green Mediterranean diet," and how is it distinct from the more traditional "Mediterranean diet"?

    Comparing And Contrasting The Green Mediterranean Diet To The Traditional Mediterranean Diet

    The normal Mediterranean diet attempts to model the eating habits of people from civilizations native to the Mediterranean region. According to Oldways, it strongly emphasizes selecting whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs, spices, nuts, and olive oil as part of one's diet. The arrow points right and up. In addition, you should consume dairy products, eggs, and chicken in reasonable amounts, along with fish and seafood, around twice per week. On this diet, consuming red meat and sweets is discouraged, and you should also avoid processed foods because they are frequently high in added sugars and sodium. You are permitted to have up to one glass of red wine per day on this diet, but if you do not currently drink alcohol, you are strongly discouraged against beginning now. The arrow pointing right and up

    The Green Mediterranean Diet is a variation on the traditional Mediterranean Diet that eliminates red and processed meats from the diet and places a greater emphasis on plant-based foods than the traditional Mediterranean Diet. You will still go for the traditionally "healthy" foods associated with the Mediterranean diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. In addition, the participants in the Heart study followed a diet that consisted of three daily components, which are as follows:

    mediterranean diet

    • 100 grams (g) of a Mankai duckweed shake (Not acquainted with duckweed? According to a paper published in Clinical Nutrition in December 2019, it is a type of protein-rich aquatic plant.) the arrow pointing right and up
    • Green tea in the amount of three to four cups.
    • Walnuts, one ounce's worth (It should note that the California Walnuts Commission provided funding for a portion of the research.)

    Why are you making these adjustments? According to Meir Stampfer, MD, DrPH, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and an author on Heart research, "The Mediterranean diet has benefits, but we thought it might improve upon by adding more foods rich in polyphenols and further reducing red meat."

    Exactly How Does One Go About Following The Green Mediterranean Diet?

    mediterranean diet

    The green Mediterranean Diet is known for its low calorie, carbohydrate, and high protein content. According to the authors of the Heart study, a typical day may aim for 1,500 calories for males and 1,200 to 1,400 calories for women. This would contain 40 grams of carbohydrates and 100 grams of protein. (The amount of carbohydrates consumed daily rises to 80 grams after two months.) Also encouraged is participation in physical activity on as many days a week as possible.

    Iris Shai, Ph.D., adjunct professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and co-author of the Heart study, says that researchers identified an X-factor in what made other diets especially healthy: antioxidant-rich plant compounds called polyphenols. Shai is a member of the research team that conducted the Heart study. Because of this, the green Mediterranean diet places a strong emphasis on consuming a variety of foods that are rich in polyphenols. Some examples of these foods include Mankai (also known as duckweed), green tea, olive oil, almonds, red onion, and broccoli. According to her, the high levels of protein, iron, and vitamin B12 found in duckweed make it an excellent alternative to meat consumption.

    What Are The Possible Advantages Of Adopting A Diet Based On The Green Mediterranean Diet?

    Green Mediterranean Diet

    According to the findings of the Heart study, adhering to a green Mediterranean diet resulted in greater improvements in levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, and inflammatory markers than did adopt a standard Mediterranean diet. The Framingham risk scores, which measure the expected risk of cardiovascular disease after ten years, were calculated for the three eating patterns that the researchers studied. They discovered that individuals who followed the green Mediterranean diet saw the greatest risk reduction. Their scores went down by 3.7 percent, whereas those who followed the conventional Mediterranean diet had scores that went down by 2.3 percent, and the scores of the control group went down by 1.4 percent.

    But those aren't the only potential advantages there are. "We also identified a significant reduction in the amount of fat stored in the liver, which is directly linked with the risk of developing diabetes and other metabolic consequences." It is important to note that exhibited these benefits in comparison to a diet that was already quite healthy," explains Dr. Stampfer, a co-author of an article on the study published in January 2021 in Gut. Right up arrow

    Green Mediterranean Diet

    According to Sharon Palmer, RDN, a plant-based dietitian based in Duarte, California, who is also an advisor for Oldways, "The Mediterranean diet has long been held up as one of the healthiest regimens we are aware of." She goes on to say that one can adhere to the Mediterranean diet while also embracing other components that are recognized to contain the potential to improve one's health, such as drinking green tea consistently.

    While the regular Mediterranean and Green Mediterranean diets emphasize plant-based food, the Green Mediterranean diet takes things one step further by replacing dinner with a duckweed drink rather than an animal protein. And even though both diets were helpful for cardiovascular and metabolic health, the results of this study suggest that including a greater number of plant-based foods in your diet is likely to be more advantageous for you, according to Palmer. According to the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable, the traditional Mediterranean diet has a long history of favorable health results. This is because it is the typical diet of countries around the Mediterranean, whose populations are known for their longevity. The arrow is pointing right and up. However, it is essential to ensure that your expectations are always realistic. Because the green Mediterranean diet is still relatively novel, experts still do not understand the possible long-term benefits it may offer.

    Many people believe that eating a plant-based diet is the best way to eat, but the benefits of this type of diet go far beyond simple weight loss.

    Is It Possible That Adhering To A Green Mediterranean Diet Could Assist In Weight Loss?

    Green Mediterranean Diet

    It should be no surprise that the green Mediterranean diet can assist people in losing weight, and this is because it is a diet low in calories and emphasizes eating real foods rather than processed meals. In the Heart trial, participants who followed the green Mediterranean diet lost an average of 14 pounds after six months. In contrast, people who followed the typical Mediterranean diet lost an average of 12 pounds. (People who followed either diet were only allowed a certain number of calories per day.) The authors point out that although the amount of weight lost by each group was comparable, the quantity lost by the experimental group was almost four times greater than that lost by the control group, which lost just around three pounds throughout the study.

    Notably, men who followed the green Mediterranean diet experienced a greater reduction in abdominal fat than men who followed the conventional diet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reducing the amount of excess belly fat can help lessen your chance of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (CDC). The arrow pointing right and up

    One thing that is essential to keep in mind is that, as the authors of the study note, the participants in the study followed the diet for six months, which is a period in which the majority of dieters see rapid weight loss. Dieters on any diet tend to steadily gain back the weight they lost after the initial period of weight loss. In an ideal case, there is a need for additional research to determine the weight loss potential of this diet over the long run.

    Green Mediterranean Diet

    However, previous research on the Mediterranean diet may give grounds to have hope for its potential benefits. Participants in a study conducted in April 2019 and published in Nutrition & Diabetes found that those who reported greater compliance with an Italian Mediterranean diet were more likely to keep a stable weight over five years. The study involved more than 32,000 people. The arrow is pointing right and up. Those who followed this food pattern had a reduced risk of becoming overweight or obese and a reduced risk of acquiring abdominal obesity compared to those who did not follow this dietary pattern.

    What To Consume And What To Avoid

    A Comprehensive Food List For The Green Mediterranean Diet.

    The participants in the Heart study adhered to a green Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes the consumption of plant-based protein through the ingestion of a Mankai (duckweed) smoothie. There are plenty of other plant-based protein sources that you can incorporate into your diets, such as chickpeas, tofu, nuts, beans, and even peanut butter; if Mankai does not appeal to you or if you are unable to find it available in your local area. If this is the case, there is no need for you to worry.

    The diet also emphasizes eating walnuts daily and drinking three to four cups of green tea, two of its defining characteristics. In addition, it is imperative that traditional components of the Mediterranean diet, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, olive oil, and whole grains, be incorporated.

    What To Do

    Green Mediterranean Diet

    • Green tea
    • Water
    • (Duckweed) Nankai, as well as protein powder derived from plants
    • Veggies that do not include starch, such as green beans, onions, broccoli, and cauliflower
    • Leafy greens
    • Tomatoes
    • Fruit
    • Eggs
    • Cottage cheese
    • Yogurt
    • Almonds
    • Walnuts
    • Oil made from olives
    • Tahini
    • Herbs
    • Spices
    • Both seafood and fowl (in limited amounts)

    What To Avoid


    Carne Roja

    The meat that has been processed.

    Foods that have been heavily processed (snack foods like chips, crackers, and cereals)


    Carbonated soft drinks and other liquids with added sugar

    A Sample Meal Plan For The Green Mediterranean Diet Over 7 Days

    The following is a meal plan modeled by one utilized in Heart research. It follows a set pattern almost entirely. Review the section that follows on the benefits and drawbacks of this diet for some pointers on how to implement the fundamentals of a Green Mediterranean Diet (i.e., more plants and less meat in your diet).

    Day 1

    Green Tea

    Breakfast A cup of cottage cheese, an omelet stuffed with herbs, and a cup of cinnamon-infused green tea round out the meal.

    Snack A steaming mug of green tea with a dash of cinnamon

    lunch A serving of fish drizzled with olive oil, a salad topped with red onion and vinaigrette, and a side of green beans

    Snack A cup of green tea and a few almonds (only a handful), please.

    Dinner A brewed cup of green tea, a small handful of walnuts, and some fruit combined in a Mankai shake.

    Day 2

    Breakfast A bowl of shakshuka (eggs cooked in tomato sauce), a cup of green tea with cinnamon, and a small bowl of yogurt.

    Snack A steaming mug of green tea with a dash of cinnamon

    Lunch A chicken breast, a green salad, and some cauliflower as a side dish

    Snack A light tuna salad and some green tea to start.

    Dinner A brewed cup of green tea, a small handful of walnuts, and some fruit combined in a Mankai shake.

    Day 3


    Breakfast An omelet accompanied by the side of tuna salad and a cup of green tea flavored with cinnamon.

    Snack A steaming mug of green tea with a dash of cinnamon

    Lunch A chicken breast, a green salad, and a side of broccoli.

    Snack A cup of green tea and a few almonds (only a handful), please.

    Dinner A brewed cup of green tea, a small handful of walnuts, and some fruit combined in a Mankai shake.

    Day 4

    Breakfast One serving of cottage cheese, one serving of an omelet stuffed with herbs, and one serving of green tea with cinnamon

    Snack A steaming mug of green tea with a dash of cinnamon

    Lunch Baked fish seasoned with olive oil and served with a green salad and cauliflower on the side.

    Snack A cup of green tea and a few almonds (only a handful), please.

    Dinner A brewed cup of green tea, a small handful of walnuts, and some fruit combined in a Mankai shake.

    Day 5

    Green Mediterranean Diet

    Breakfast A bowl of eggs cooked in tomato sauce, also known as shakshuka, accompanied by a cup of cottage cheese and green tea spiced with cinnamon.

    Snack A steaming mug of green tea with a dash of cinnamon

    Lunch Baked fish seasoned with olive oil and served with a green salad and green beans on the side.

    Snack A cup of unsweetened green tea and a portion of tuna salad to share

    Dinner A brewed cup of green tea, a small handful of walnuts, and some fruit combined in a Mankai shake.

    Day 6

    Breakfast A cup of green tea flavored with cinnamon and a plate of tuna salad on whole-wheat pita bread is included in this meal.

    Snack A steaming mug of green tea with a dash of cinnamon

    Lunch A chicken breast has been grilled and served with a green salad and broccoli.

    Snack A cup of green tea and a few almonds (only a handful), please.

    Dinner A brewed cup of green tea, a small handful of walnuts, and some fruit combined in a Mankai shake.

    Day 7

    mediterranean diet

    Breakfast A cup of cinnamon-infused green tea, a bowl of scrambled eggs, and a serving of low-fat Greek yogurt with scrambled eggs.

    Snack Consume some green tea flavored with cinnamon.

    Lunch is baked fish drizzled with olive oil for lunch and a green salad, and roasted cauliflower.

    Snack A cup of green tea and a few almonds (only a handful), please.

    Dinner A brewed cup of green tea, a small handful of walnuts, and some fruit combined in a Mankai shake.

    The Importance Of Physical Activity Regards To the Green Mediterranean Diet

    As part of the research project, participants were given complimentary gym memberships for 18 months. They attended instructional sessions intending to encourage them to engage in physical activity of a moderate level. The majority of that exercise consisted of aerobic or cardiovascular activity. The initial instruction given to the participants was to begin their aerobic training with 20 minutes per day at a moderate pace (65 percent of their maximum heart rate), with the expectation that they would gradually increase both the duration and the intensity of their workouts.

    Participants eventually worked their way up to performing 45 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 to 4 times per week, in addition to performing once-weekly strength training that consisted of two sets of weighted exercises such as squats and pushups.

    The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or at least 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week. This recommendation stands regardless of the eating plan that an individual is following.


    What Are The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Following A Mediterranean Diet With A Green Twist?

    Before fully committing to following the green Mediterranean diet, it is important to consider the pros and downsides of this eating plan.

    Pros Of Green Mediterranean Diet

    The shift toward consuming more meals that are based on plants is one of the major benefits associated with the green Mediterranean diet. According to Palmer, "the traditional diet of the Mediterranean region has traditionally made use of plant proteins," such as beans, nuts, and seeds. On the other hand, as the name of the diet suggests and as was said earlier, the green Mediterranean diet takes this method of consuming protein to a higher level.

    Some of the health benefits of this plan have long been attributed to plant-based foods. Suppose you reduce or eliminate the number of animal proteins you consume. In that case, you will start naturally consuming even more of these healthy plant proteins in your diet.

    Several studies, including a specific one published in JAMA Internal Medicine in August 2019, have found a connection between enhanced longevity and the consumption of plant proteins.

    The arrow was pointing right and up. According to the Mayo Clinic, increasing one's consumption of plant foods may help lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The arrow pointing right and up

    Stepping away from foods high in animal protein is one method to reduce one's environmental impact. A global modeling analysis of the environmental impact of various diets found that predominantly plant-based diets (such as vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and flexitarian eating styles) were associated with the greatest reduction in environmental impacts. This study was published in October 2018 in The Lancet Planetary Health (especially greenhouse gas emissions). The arrow pointing right and up

    Cons Of Green Mediterranean Diet

    mediterranean diet

    What might be considered a potential disadvantage of the green Mediterranean diet? It is not as flexible as the typical Mediterranean diet if you follow it exactly as the people in the Heart research did, but you may still modify it. For the most part, you are adhering to a predetermined plan, which includes a predetermined calorie and carbohydrate allotment and a high-protein quota you must meet. You might, for instance, opt for a duckweed smoothie rather than picking what you want to have for supper. This component of the diet plan has the potential to either be a benefit or a drawback: Because of the way that this diet is structured, you might find that it helps you thrive, but on the other hand, you might discover that it does not work for you due to your food preferences, your eating pattern, or the availability of specialty foods (like Mankai).

    It may be challenging for some individuals to transition from animal or plant-based protein sources to duckweed as a source of protein. The Mankai was delivered as fresh, frozen cubes to be blended into a shake by the research; however, this component can be difficult to procure. It is possible to use a plant-based protein powder to replace red meat in the diet; however, according to Stamford, "I doubt they would achieve all of the benefits we found without the polyphenols [from the duckweed]." Although it is possible to use a plant-based protein powder to replace red meat in the diet, it is not recommended. According to Dr. Shai, in the context of this diet, we may investigate other green plant-based proteins at some point in the future.

    Green Mediterranean Diet

    According to Kelly Kennedy, RDN, staff nutritionist at Everyday Health, you must consult your primary care physician or another healthcare provider before making any significant dietary changes. She also mentions that people with a history of eating disorders should probably avoid following this diet because it may not be appropriate for them.

    What Are The Immediate And Prolonged Advantages Of Adopting A Healthier Diet Based On The Mediterranean Diet?

    Some of this approach's results may become apparent immediately, while others might take some time.

    Possible Advantages In The Short-Term

    • Weight Loss The green Mediterranean diet was proven to promote weight loss (approximately 14 pounds) over six months, which is beneficial in the short term. Additionally, it was associated with lower abdominal fat in males.

    Green Mediterranean Diet

    • Better Mood The research that looked at the Green Mediterranean Diet did not examine how the diet affected people's moods. Nevertheless, a PLoS One article from October 2019, After only three weeks of following a healthy eating diet with Mediterranean features (such as foods containing omega-3 fatty acids or spices like turmeric or cinnamon), participants in one study on young adults with moderate depression reported fewer symptoms of depression compared to the group that served as the control. Conducted this research on young adults. The arrow points right and up. However, the authors could not pinpoint the mechanism responsible for the improvement in Mood. The diet may help reduce inflammation, one factor in mental health issues such as depression.

    Possible Advantages Over The Long Term

    • Reduce the Potential for Heart Disease If you stick with this strategy for the long term, you might notice a drop in blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation; these three factors are all potentially helpful in lowering the chance of developing heart disease in the future.
    • Reduced Probability of Developing Diabetes Insulin levels was found to be lower in the group that followed a green Mediterranean diet compared to the control group (who were provided with healthy diet recommendations), and fasting blood sugar levels dropped in all of the groups who participated in the study. (It has been demonstrated that consuming green tea and Mankai positively affect glucose levels.) If you want to lower your chance of developing diabetes, following a diet that helps you control your blood sugar is one thing you can do.

    Green Mediterranean Diet

    • Better Sleep Even though this study did not directly investigate sleep quality, recent research suggests that the traditional Mediterranean diet may also be beneficial in this regard. Participants who followed the Mediterranean diet more closely had better sleep quality, more efficient sleep, and fewer sleep disturbances after one year compared to people who did not comply with the eating pattern in a study that involved 432 women and was published in Nutrients in September 2020. the arrow is pointing right and up. According to the study's findings, peaceful sleep may be promoted by following a predominantly plant-based diet (with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables).

    A Closing Remark Regarding The Eco-Friendly Mediterranean Diet

    The traditional Mediterranean diet is more of an overall pattern of eating rather than a set of strict rules to adhere to. These rules include limiting your intake of red meat, increasing your fish and olive oil consumption, and stuffing yourself with vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. On the other hand, the green Mediterranean diet investigated in the Heart trial followed a more rigidly organized format. And because there hasn't been enough research done on this updated version of the Mediterranean diet yet, it's impossible to say for certain what this diet's potential consequences will be in the long run.

    mediterranean diet

    However, in contrast to more stringent diets like the ketogenic diet or the paleo diet, the green Mediterranean diet does not need to be an all-or-nothing eating plan to be effective. You can undoubtedly take aspects of a green Mediterranean diet and apply them to a classic Mediterranean diet. Doing so may make it easier for you to adhere to the diet while still allowing you to get some of its health benefits. Palmer states, "This research lends credence to the [current] Mediterranean diet, but it focuses on items like leafy greens." He continues, "Sometimes you don't have to follow a prescription but keep with the principles." For instance, begin to consume green tea, incorporate nuts into your daily diet as a snack, or just concentrate on consuming more greens and avoiding consuming meat and other animal products whenever possible.

    To put it another way, adding healthy options to a diet that is already recognized as being healthy is likely to increase the benefits of the diet. Whether you embrace it in its traditional form or lean into its "green" twist, the Mediterranean diet is a diet that is sustainable over the long term and has been shown to have positive effects on health. According to Shai, "people first need to appreciate what they eat, feel comfortable with this green lifestyle, and be sensitive to their unique response."