A recent study published in JAMA Network Open suggests that the Atlantic diet, a traditional eating plan prevalent in northwestern Spain and northern Portugal, may offer significant health advantages, including improvements in cholesterol levels and reduction in belly fat.
This diet, characterized by a rich assortment of fish and seafood, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, olive oil, and moderate consumption of meat and wine, is gaining attention for its potential impact on cardiovascular health.
The study, conducted by researchers from Spain, followed over 200 families from a rural Spanish community from March 2014 to May 2015. Participants were divided into two groups, with one group instructed to adhere to the Atlantic diet while the other continued their typical eating habits.
Over the course of six months, researchers assessed various health parameters, including dietary intake, physical activity, medication use, and metabolic indicators.
Study To Understand The Effects of the Atlantic Diet
Results from the study indicated that participants following the Atlantic diet experienced improvements in waist circumference and HDL “good” cholesterol levels.
While the diet did not significantly affect other metabolic markers such as blood pressure, triglyceride levels, or fasting glucose levels, it showed promise in mitigating risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
Of particular note, individuals who adhered to the Atlantic diet demonstrated a lower incidence of developing metabolic syndrome compared to those who maintained their typical dietary patterns.
Furthermore, among participants already diagnosed with metabolic syndrome at the beginning of the study, a significant proportion in the Atlantic diet group no longer met the criteria for the condition after six months.
The Atlantic diet emphasizes nutrient-dense foods and traditional cooking methods, such as stewing, which enhance the bioavailability of nutrients and promote overall health. Experts believe that the diet’s focus on wholesome ingredients and family-oriented eating habits contributes to its potential health benefits.
Michelle Routhenstein, a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in heart disease, emphasized the Atlantic diet’s potential for enhancing health. She noted that the diet prioritizes nutrient-dense foods and traditional cooking methods, which enhance the body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients effectively.
Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, an interventional cardiologist, highlighted the similarities between the Atlantic diet and the well-studied Mediterranean diet. Both dietary patterns emphasize the consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats, with moderate intake of fish, dairy, and wine.
While the Atlantic diet shows promise in improving cardiovascular health and reducing metabolic risk factors, researchers acknowledge some limitations in the study. They note that the six-month duration may not have been sufficient to fully assess metabolic changes, suggesting that longer-term follow-up studies could provide more robust evidence.
Overall, the findings of this study underscore the potential benefits of adopting the Atlantic diet for improving cholesterol levels, reducing belly fat, and mitigating metabolic risk factors. As interest in traditional dietary patterns grows, further research is warranted to explore the long-term effects and broader implications of the Atlantic diet on overall health and well-being.