The Atlantic diet: A carb-friendly alternative to the Mediterranean diet

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Atlantic diet Mediterranean diet

For those who love their carbohydrates but are looking to eat healthier, the Atlantic diet, a neighbour to the Mediterranean diet, might be exactly what you’re searching for.

The Atlantic diet includes unprocessed whole foods, such as fresh produce, and wine in moderation, just like the Mediterranean diet. The difference is that it includes more starchy carbohydrates, bread, and dairy products like cheese.

Based on the traditional eating habits of northern Spain and Portugal, the Atlantic diet could help prevent chronic diseases and promote a healthy metabolism. This is according to a study published on February 7th in JAMA Network Open. This new research suggests that this carbohydrate-rich eating plan, which includes dairy products, may offer similar benefits to the highly praised Mediterranean diet in protecting metabolic health and preventing chronic diseases.

What is the Atlantic diet?

The Atlantic diet from Portugal or Galicia focuses on abundant longevity-boosting foods. These include fresh vegetables, olive oil, legumes, seafood, fish, and even wine. It is similar to the Mediterranean diet. This diet has been considered the healthiest diet in the world for seven consecutive years, emphasising whole, unprocessed foods.

However, there are differences: compared to the Mediterranean diet, the Atlantic diet contains more carbohydrates. These come specifically from whole grains and starchy foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes, recommending 6-8 servings a day. It also includes cheese and other dairy products, as well as lean meats and red meat in moderation.

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The benefits of the Atlantic diet

What does this new study say? Researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela tracked 231 families (518 individuals) from rural Spain for six months. They analysed their metabolic health with measurements such as weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

Half of the participants were randomly assigned to follow a traditional Atlantic diet. These participants were provided with food, cooking classes, and other resources for this purpose. The other half were instructed to continue with their usual dietary guidelines.

After six months, those following the Atlantic diet showed a 68% lower likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome. This is a set of health issues that includes elevated cholesterol levels and a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. The researchers found that those on the Atlantic diet had slimmer waists and were less likely to have high levels of abdominal fat compared to their peers who did not follow the diet.

Blood health

However, the diet did not seem to influence specific health measures such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels, indicating that further research is needed to understand how it works and who can benefit from it. For now, the researchers discovered that a key factor in the health benefits was that participants followed the diet as a family. Previous studies suggest that social support can facilitate the creation and maintenance of healthy habits.

And there is compelling evidence that eating whole, nutrient-dense foods has a multitude of health and longevity benefits, whether one opts for more Mediterranean meals, embraces the eating style of the so-called blue zones—rich in centenarians—or chooses the Atlantic diet.

Mediterranean diet and a good sex life!

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