Atlantic Diet: Study Finds It May Shrink Belly Fat and Lower Cholesterol

In recent years, the Atlantic diet has emerged as a rival to the well-known Mediterranean diet in promoting heart health and overall well-being.

Atlantic Diet: Study Finds It May Shrink Belly Fat and Lower Cholesterol

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Originating from the regions of northwest Spain and northern Portugal, the Atlantic diet offers a blend of local, fresh, and whole foods, with communal eating habits that have been associated with lower rates of heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

What is the Atlantic Diet?

The Atlantic diet is rooted in the culinary traditions of northern Portugal and Galicia in northwest Spain. It is around the consumption of seasonal, local, and minimally processed foods, addressing its nutrient-rich ingredients.

At the core of the Atlantic diet are staples such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, seafood, olive oil, and dairy products. Unlike restrictive fad diets, the Atlantic diet has a balanced approach to eating, incorporating a variety of food groups to ensure optimal nutrition.

Components of the Atlantic Diet

  1. Whole grains: Including bread, pasta, rice, and cereals, whole grains form the foundation of the Atlantic diet, providing nutrients and dietary fiber.
  2. Fish and seafood: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish and seafood feature in the Atlantic diet, contributing to heart health and overall well-being.
  3. Vegetables and fruits: Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, vegetables and fruits are abundant in the Atlantic diet, offering health benefits.
  4. Olive oil: A cornerstone of Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is also integral to the Atlantic diet, prized for its flavor and numerous health-promoting properties.
  5. Dairy products: Mainly consisting of milk and cheese, dairy products add calcium and protein to the diet, supporting bone health and muscle function.
  6. Lean meats: While not as prevalent as in other diets, lean meats such as beef and pork are consumed in moderation in the Atlantic diet, providing nutrients like protein and iron.

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Benefits of the Atlantic Diet

  • Reduced risk of metabolic syndrome: Studies have shown that individuals following the Atlantic diet experience a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Improved cardiovascular health: The Atlantic diet’s emphasis on fish, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contributes to improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and overall heart health.
  • Weight management: With its focus on nutrient-dense foods and portion control, the Atlantic diet supports healthy weight management and may help prevent obesity.
  • Enhanced nutrient intake: By prioritizing fresh, whole foods, the Atlantic diet ensures adequate intake of essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are vital for overall health and well-being.

Comparing the Atlantic Diet to the Mediterranean Diet

  • Food choices: The Atlantic diet includes a higher consumption of potatoes, bread, milk, and cheese compared to the Mediterranean diet, which focuses more on olive oil, nuts, and plant-based foods.
  • Culinary traditions: While both diets promote communal eating and traditional cooking methods, such as stewing, the Atlantic diet shows regional flavors and ingredients to northern Portugal and northwest Spain.
  • Research base: While the Mediterranean diet has been studied and associated with numerous health benefits, including reduced cardiovascular risk, the Atlantic diet is still emerging in the scientific literature, with findings but fewer long-term studies.

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Tips for Adopting the Atlantic Diet

  1. Embrace local and seasonal produce: Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains that are fresh and in season to maximize flavor and nutritional value.
  2. Experiment with seafood: Explore different types of fish and seafood in your meals, for at least two servings per week to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Whole foods: Choose minimally processed foods over highly refined options, opting for whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to support overall health.
  4. Practice mindful eating: Savor each meal, focusing on the flavors and textures of your food, and enjoy the experience of sharing meals with loved ones whenever possible.
  5. Seek support and resources: Utilize cookbooks, online recipes, and resources to discover new recipes and cooking techniques that go with the principles of the Atlantic diet.

Research published in journals such as JAMA Network and BMC Medicine has showed its efficacy in lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions linked to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Participants following the Atlantic diet showed improvements in waist circumference, obesity, and HDL cholesterol levels.

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