In diets other than the Mediterranean, most weight loss benefits disappeared within a year and the risk of heart disease also rose.
The results of a new study published in the British Medical Journal concluded that the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) was the most effective diet for reducing the risk of heart disease.
Our study has one key message, losing weight, regardless of the method, also improves related cardiovascular risk factors.
The research team discovered that the MedDiet was the only diet to deliver any long-term benefits and it was particularly effective in the reduction of Low-Density Lipoprotein (also known as bad cholesterol) which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study examined the effects of 14 different diets. These included both trend-based and branded diets including Atkins, Zone, DASH, low fat, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers.
It was discovered that in all the diets apart from the Mediterranean, most weight-loss benefits had disappeared a year after the start of the diet and the risk of heart disease had also risen.
Results revealed that most of the diets led to an average weight loss of ten pounds at the six-month mark as well as improved blood pressure. However one year on, most of the weight loss had disappeared and the risk of heart disease had returned to its pre-diet level.
The Mediterranean diet emerged as the only diet effective in retaining a moderately lowered risk of heart disease 12 months on. Co-author Gordon Guyatt, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Canada’s McMaster University told Olive Oil Times,
“Weight management and reducing your cardiovascular disease risk are important health factors. Most diets lead to short-term weight loss and important cardiovascular benefits, but those benefits largely disappear by 12 months. Although weight-loss was diminished, the Mediterranean diet maintained some cardiovascular benefits at 12 months.”
He said, “A number of studies report potential health benefits with a Mediterranean-style diet. The diet is known for its focus on olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. It allows for a moderate intake of fish and poultry and recommends a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets.”
Guyatt said the findings support growing literature on diets promoting weight loss and their relative cardio-protective benefits and concluded, “Our study has one key message, losing weight, regardless of the method, also improves related cardiovascular risk factors.”
Earlier this year the Mediterranean diet was named as the best overall eating plan for the third consecutive year by a panel of nutritionists, diabetes specialists, heart health and weight loss experts in the US News & World Report’s annual list of top diets.
The diet was rated as the best eating plan due to its richness in fresh fruit, vegetables and olive oil. It was also praised for being easy to follow.