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Introducing The ‘Atlantic’ Diet – better for slashing cholesterol, weight and beer bellies than the Mediterranean, according to experts

The Mediterranean diet has long been hailed as the healthiest eating plan in the world.

The diet, which emphasizes lean proteins, seafood and healthy fats like olive oil, has numerous studies pointing to its benefits.

These include weight loss, a reduced risk of heart disease and even the prevention of dementia.

However, a new study suggests that an emerging diet could dethrone the Mediterranean plan and halve the risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Researchers in Spain recruited more than 200 families and instructed about half to follow the Atlantic diet, an eating plan derived from Spain and Portugal that emphasizes stews, baked and boiled foods, rather than roasted in fat or fried, as well as local, seasonal options. .

Those who followed the Atlantic diet instead of their normal diet for six months ‘significantly reduced the incidence of metabolic syndrome’, including improvements in waist circumference, weight and HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Only three percent of participants who followed the plan developed a decline in the above health markers, compared to six percent in the other group.

However, blood pressure and glucose blood sugar levels remained the same.

The Atlantic Diet prioritizes foods from Spain and Portugal, including local and seasonal produce such as fish, healthy fats and nuts

One of the most important aspects of the Atlantic diet is steaming, boiling and grilling foods.  Steaming has been shown to reduce harmful additives that can lead to heart disease and dementia

One of the most important aspects of the Atlantic diet is steaming, boiling and grilling foods. Steaming has been shown to reduce harmful additives that can lead to heart disease and dementia

Michelle Routhenstein, a registered dietitian nutritionist at EntirelyNourished, who was not involved in the study, said Healthline: ‘The Atlantic Diet offers significant potential for improving health because of its emphasis on nutrient-dense foods and family-oriented eating habits.’

In the study, published Wednesday in JAMA network openedthe researchers evaluated 231 families from a primary health care center in rural northwestern Spain between 2014 and 2015.

Participants included 518 adults aged 18 to 85, all of whom were of Hispanic ethnicity and white descent.

The average age of the participants was 47 years old, and 60 percent of them were women.

About 450 participants did not have metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, among other things. In addition, 117 of the patients already had metabolic syndrome.

They were then divided into two groups, of which 270 (121 families) followed the Atlantic diet and 248 (110 families) stuck to their normal diet.

People participating in the Atlantic Diet also attended three nutrition education sessions and received a cooking class, a recipe book and food baskets.

Another important principle is finding seasonal, locally grown foods, like those you might find at the farmer's market

Another important principle is finding seasonal, locally grown foods, like those you might find at the farmer’s market

Healthy fats like salmon and olive oil can be found in the Atlantic diet, as well as the hugely popular Mediterranean and DASH plans

Healthy fats like salmon and olive oil can be found in the Atlantic diet, as well as the hugely popular Mediterranean and DASH plans

At the start of the study and after six months, the researchers collected information about the patient’s diet, physical activity and medications using a food diary.

The team then measured several aspects of the participants’ metabolic health, including waist circumference, triglycerides (fats in the blood), HDL cholesterol levels (good), blood pressure and glucose levels.

Of those following the Atlantic diet, three percent developed metabolic syndrome after six months, compared to seven percent of those following their normal diet.

The researchers also found that participants on the Atlantic diet had improvements in waist circumference, weight and cholesterol. However, blood pressure, triglyceride levels and glucose did not change.

After six months, a third of patients with metabolic syndrome in both groups no longer showed signs of the condition.

The researchers said this suggests that the Atlantic diet mainly benefited those who had not yet developed metabolic syndrome.

“A traditional Atlantic dietary intervention significantly reduced the incidence of metabolic syndrome,” the team wrote.

However, they also said that longer-term research is needed.

The Atlantic Diet is largely similar to eating plans like Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which focus on minimally processed grains, fish and healthy fats like olive oil.

The main difference is the emphasis on stewed, boiled, fried and grilled foods.

Steaming has been shown to promote health by preserving natural flavor and minimizing the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), compounds that, in high concentrations, can lead to heart disease, diabetes and dementia.

Stews are usually thicker than soups and contain just enough liquid to cover the main ingredients.

“By prioritizing healthy ingredients and traditional cooking methods such as steaming, this diet improves the bioavailability of nutrients, allowing the body to better absorb and use them,” says Routhenstein.

Another important principle is eating seasonal, locally grown foods that you can find at a farmers market whenever possible.

However, if you can’t find a farmer’s market, Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, an interventional cardiologist at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in California, told me Healthline that you can focus on fresh foods such as vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish and lean meats.

“The emphasis on minimally processed foods is a lesson we can integrate into our eating habits,” he said.