Eating Vegan Has A Surprising Edge Over The Mediterranean In One Way

Years ago, vegan may not have even been a thought in your mind, but today, most people are giving the plant-based lifestyle a second look due to its health benefits. There are many diets that are "plant-based," but not necessarily vegan. The Mediterranean diet for example, which has been known for its heart health and anti-inflammatory properties, is built around a plant-based premise, but it's not a vegan diet as it allows seafood, poultry, and dairy (via the Mayo Clinic). 

Research continues to show us that vegan is a healthy way to eat, and that contrary to past beliefs, all of our nutrients, including protein, can be attained this way (via Medical News Today), as long as you plan ahead to make sure you're incorporating the right things. Until recently, it was thought that the Mediterranean and the vegan diets offered similar results for weight loss, as well as improvements in overall health, but a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests differently (via the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC)). Co-author, Dr. Hana Kahleova, Ph.D., of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, states, "We decided to test the diets head to head and found that a vegan diet is more effective for both improving health markers and boosting weight loss."

Choose vegan for weight loss

The randomized crossover trial included 62 overweight adults with half assigned to a Mediterranean diet allowing fish, olive oil, and dairy products, and half to a low fat, vegan diet, both without calorie restriction. The research found that, when compared, the low-fat vegan diet had "better outcomes for weight, body composition, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol levels," and those on the vegan plan lost an average of 13 pounds while the Mediterranean participants showed no average change in weight (via the AJC).

The vegan group showed an improvement in cholesterol, reducing LDL cholesterol levels by 0.153 grams per liter as well as a decrease in total cholesterol, while the Mediterranean group did not show a significant change. Co-author Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee states, "In a randomized, controlled trial, the Mediterranean diet caused no weight loss at all. The problem seems to be the inclusion of fatty fish, dairy products, and oils. In contrast, a low-fat vegan diet caused significant and consistent weight loss," (per the AJC). 

So, when it comes to choosing a diet, a plant-based diet may help you achieve your weight loss goals, but always speak to your healthcare provider before drastically changing your diet.