Is the Green Mediterranean Diet Healthier Than Regular Mediterranean?

What is the green Mediterranean diet?

“The green Mediterranean diet is a fairly new tweak to the current Mediterranean diet,” says Maggie Michalczyk, a registered dietitian based in Chicago who represents California walnuts. “It involves opting for even more fiber from plant-based foods and less red meat. It focuses on eating more plant-based sources of protein.”

Registered dietitians, nutritionists and many consumers are well aware of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. This month, for the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News named the Mediterranean regimen the No. 1 Best Overall Diet.

The green Mediterranean diet may be even better for your heart, research suggests. The green Mediterranean diet “may amplify the beneficial cardio-metabolic effects of the Mediterranean diet,” according to a study published in 2020 in the journal Heart.

[See: High-Protein Breakfast Ideas.]

The Mediterranean regimen emphasizes eating plenty of these foods:

— Vegetables.


— Nuts.

— Whole grains.

— Beans.

— Legumes.

Olive oil.

— Flavorful herbs and spices.

The Mediterranean diet also calls for consuming seafood and fish at least a couple of times a week and eating eggs, poultry, cheese and yogurt in moderation. The approach limits indulging in sweets and red meat.

You can shift from the classic Mediterranean diet to the green version with just a few tweaks, Michalczyk says.

“Specifically, the green Mediterranean diet advises people to cut out red meat almost entirely and focus more on (foods with) fiber and healthy fats.”

[See: 7 Diet Mistakes Sabotaging Your Weight Loss.]

Foods and drinks that could be part of a green Mediterranean diet include:

— Duckweed.

— Walnuts.

Green tea.

— Green smoothies.

— Salmon with roasted root vegetables.

— Plant-based snacks.

1. Duckweed. This aquatic plant is similar to watercress and contains lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. You can use duckweed in smoothies. If you can’t find duckweed at your local grocery store or farmer’s market, you can substitute hemp, chia or flax seeds. Each of these are also good sources of omega-3s, Michalczyk says.

2. Walnuts. These nuts contain a beneficial mix of plant-based protein and good fats, including polyunsaturated fats like omega-3s, which help with fullness and satisfaction. “Walnuts are a main component of the green Mediterranean diet,” Michalczyk says. “Opt for them as a snack, or add a handful on top of yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies daily.”

3. Green tea. Drinking at least three cups of green tea daily would be part of a green Mediterranean regimen. Green tea is loaded with polyphenols, natural compounds that, research suggests, help shield you from cancer and fight inflammation, says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition. “The polyphenols in the green tea are a type of antioxidant and provide anti-inflammatory benefits,” she says. Antioxidants help lower the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

4. Green smoothies. To make your typical green smoothie more in line with the green Mediterranean diet, try adding a dose of plant-based protein. Chia, hemp or flax seeds are all plant-based proteins that are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

[READ: Heart-Healthy Soups.]

5. Salmon with roasted root vegetables. Salmon is a good source of healthy fats. Adding veggies gives you a nutrient-dense meal, Michalczyk says. “Drizzle olive oil — another source of good fat — on top of roasted vegetables,” she says. Sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and cauliflower are all good choices that are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols. Olive oil drizzled on top of vegetables helps our bodies absorb more fat-soluble vitamins from veggies.

6. Plant-based snacks. There are plenty of tasty, healthy plant-based snacks that could be part of a green Mediterranean diet, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia.

Snacks that fit into a green Mediterranean eating regimen include:

— Hummus.

— Bean-based pasta with vegan pesto or basic tomato sauce.

— Tahini with roasted veggies.

More from U.S. News

5 Best Food Sources for Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Healthy High-Fat Foods

Foods for Diabetes

Is the Green Mediterranean Diet Healthier Than Regular Mediterranean? originally appeared on

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