Heart attack: Green Mediterranean diet impacts ghrelin levels and belly fat to reduce risk

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Heart attack risk is largely influenced by the lifestyle choices and diet being key factors. While poor dietary decisions can hike your risk of developing the deadly complication, opting for healthy equivalents can help to ward off the threat. A new study has found one of the best diets to help improve cardiometabolic benefits reducing heart attack risk.

Fasting levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin rebound after weight loss significantly reduces belly fat and helps to improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

This action could also help to lower a person’s risk of having a heart attack according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Ghrelin is a stomach-derived hormone that stimulates appetite with levels rising during overnight fasting when a person is sleeping.

The 18m clinical trial study found that individuals who have higher levels of fasting ghrelin face decreased risk of developing diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

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Shai and colleagues examined fasting ghrelin levels in 294 participants over 18 months.

During the trial, participants with either abdominal obesity or dyslipidaemia—a condition with abnormally elevated cholesterol or fats in the blood—were randomised to one of three diets: following healthy dietary guidelines, the Mediterranean diet or a green version of the Mediterranean diet that was protein plant-based and free of red meat.

Individuals following the green Mediterranean diet had fasting ghrelin levels that were twice as high as those who followed a traditional Mediterranean diet improving heart health.

“The elevation in fasting ghrelin levels might help to explain why the green Mediterranean diet optimised the microbiome, reduced liver fat and improved cardiometabolic health more than the other diets in our study,” Shai said.

A green Mediterranean diet contains even more plant matter and very little red meat or poultry, which may also be the cause for improved cardiovascular and metabolic health than the traditional version of the Mediterranean diet.

It’s thought the diet helps with improved heart health due to its higher dietary intake of polyphenols, phytosterols, ‘healthy’ fats, and fibres and lower animal protein intake.  

Cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors also improve for those following the green Med diet.

With other health benefits including falls in diastolic blood pressure, insulin resistance, reduction of inflammation and lowered cholesterol.

“The results of our study suggest that fasting ghrelin is an essential hormonal factor in the diet-associated recovery of sensitivity to insulin and visceral adiposity regression, or reduction in belly fat,” added the first author of the paper, Gal Tsaban, a researcher and cardiologist of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center, Israel.

“The differential, diet-specific response in fasting ghrelin levels elevation might suggest another mechanism in which distinct dietary regimens, such as the green-Mediterranean diet, reduce cardiometabolic risk.”

The green tea consumption found on the green-Med diet also helps to slash a person’s risk of having a heart attack.

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