Researchers have found that the Atlantic Diet, a traditional diet pattern in Portugal and Galicia, a region in northwest Spain, could help reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome, consists of a group of five risk elements, which, if left unaddressed, elevate the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The risk factors include elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, accumulation of excess abdominal fat, and reduced levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
High consumption of fish and seafood, complemented by starch-based foods, dried fruits, cheese, milk, and a moderate intake of meat and wine, are characteristic features of an Atlantic diet.
The new study findings were based on a 6-month-long randomized clinical trial conducted between 2014 and 2015 in A Estrada, Spain. The researchers aimed to investigate the traditional Atlantic diet’s effects on human health, specifically metabolic syndrome (MetS) and environmental sustainability. The study was published in the journal Jama Network.
A total of 574 participants aged 3 to 85 years were involved in the study. Using a computer-generated random number table, participants were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to the intervention and control group.
The trial emphasized using the Atlantic diet with fresh, local, and minimally processed seasonal foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and olive oil.
All participants were assessed for their dietary intake, physical activity, medication use, and other variables at baseline and after six months.
“Of the 457 participants without MetS (Metabolic syndrome) at the beginning of the trial, 23 developed MetS during the 6-month follow-up in the intervention group; 17 in the control group). There was a significant reduction in incident MetS cases for the intervention group compared with the control group,” the researchers wrote.
However, the study noted that the control and intervention groups have a reduction in carbon footprint scores with no significant difference.
“Our findings provide important evidence for the potential of traditional diets to accelerate progress toward achieving SDGs (United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals). Further research is needed to thoroughly understand the underlying mechanisms behind the observed outcomes and to determine the generalizability of these findings to other populations, taking into account the cultural and dietary variations of each region,” the researchers concluded.