An Israeli study published August 7, 2019 in the Hepatology journal has found that the key to preventing health risks from obesity is by losing liver fat. Losing weight is not effective unless one loses fat that has built up in the liver. In fact the study also showed health benefits from losing fat in the pancreas and around the heart. The researchers from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, Soroka University Medical Center, Tel Aviv University and the Nuclear Research Center Negev in collaboration with Leipzig University in Germany and Harvard University also experimented with various diets and concluded that the Mediterranean diet is the best one for losing liver fat. The study was led by Professor Iris Shai of Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
There were 278 overweight participants in the study whose dietary patterns were followed over a period of 18 months. The researchers used MRI imaging to measure the reduction of fat in the liver, pancreas and around the heart. While people succeeded to lose weight with other diets like a low-fat or low-carb diet, only the Mediterranean diet showed significant results for lowering the risk for heart disease.
The amount of liver fat was reduced by 30%, fat around the heart decreased by 11 % and visceral fat was reduced by 25%. Pancreatic and muscle fat was reduced by only 1-2%.
The study showed that excess liver fat can lead to obesity and raise risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study shows that emphasizing weight loss only is not as effective as a low calorie Mediterranean diet for managing liver fat and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Research for a “Green” Mediterranean Diet
The researchers are now completing a clinical trial to see if the effects of a “green” Mediterranean diet from green plants can be even more beneficial for lowering liver fat.
Origins of the Mediterranean Diet
In 1958 it was noticed that people living around the Mediterranean sea in countries like Greece and Italy had lower rates of heart disease, stroke and dementia than people in other countries. Researchers began investigating what was different in their lifestyles. They came up with their diet, which was high in fish and low in meat, lots of vegetables, legumes, yogurt and cheeses, whole grains, nuts, fruits and extra virgin olive oil as their only dietary fat. They did not drink alcoholic beverages except for some wine which was only drunk during meals. Thus came about the Mediterranean Diet.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the sole fat and oil used in the Mediterranean Diet. EVOO is a monounsaturated fat that does not lead to weight gain. Previous studies have verified that extra virgin olive oil protects the blood vessels of the heart and brain. In fact, extra virgin olive oil is considered the most heart-healthy oil. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-pain properties. It has been found very beneficial for protecting the lining of the stomach and intestinal tract against irritating substances. Research has also found a substance called oleocanthol in EVOO that has been found to kill human cancer cells. Olive oil also contains compounds found to be beneficial in wound healing.
Choose a Rehab or Long-term Skilled Nursing Care Facility that puts Emphasis on Healthy Nutrition
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York offers fine restaurant style dining with a healthy and nutritious cuisine under the guidance of a registered dietititian.
If healthy eating and following a heart-healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet has so many health benefits it pays to give it a try.