A study published this month in the medical journal "Heart" found that eaters who consumed plant-based proteins and a limited amount of poultry and red meat were more heart-healthy compared to a traditional Mediterranean diet, which consists of meat and seafood combined with veggies, whole grains and olive oil in moderation.
For the study, researchers divided 294 moderately obese participants – the majority of whom were men – into three groups. The first group was advised on ways to increase physical activity and were instructed simply on healthy dieting.
The second group received the same guidance, however, they were told to follow a traditional Mediterranean diet subbing out red meat for fish and poultry instead. Researchers also upped the amount of vegetables participants were told to eat during the study.
The third group was advised on physical activity and how to follow the green Mediterranean diet sans meat and an abundance of plant-based foods with high protein from nuts and other ingredients to substitute for animal-based products.
After the trial, the participants, aged 51 on average, who were following the green Mediterranean diet shed 13.7 pounds – more than those following the traditional chicken and fished-based Mediterranean diet, who lost 11.9 pounds. The healthy diet followers only lost 3.3 pounds. Eaters following the plant-based Mediterranean diet also lost up to 3.4 inches off their waistline – compared to 2.7 inches lost by traditional Mediterranean dieters and 1.7 inches shed from healthy dieters.
The study confirms previous research that suggests adults who follow a plant-based or vegan diet exhibited noticeable weight loss and decreased body fat. And nutritionists say upping intake of plant-based foods like legumes, nuts and leafy greens can be an ample source of sustenance without compromising fiber and protein intake.
“The more plant-based foods you eat, the more fiber and antioxidants like vitamin C you’re getting,” registered dietitian and author of “Finally Full, Finally Slim” Dr. Lisa Young tells Fox.
“What people don’t realize is you don’t need to eat animal products to get protein. There’s protein in grains and greens. There’s protein in plant-based vegetables. Calorically, the reason it would help with weight loss, is the fiber will help you feel full and you’ll be able to eat a larger portion and feel more satisfied," she added.