Atlantic Diet vs. Mediterranean Diet: Exploring Health Benefits and Practical Implementation

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The Mediterranean diet has consistently topped global charts for years, but now, the "Atlantic Diet" is gaining attention. What exactly is the Atlantic Diet, and is it better than the Mediterranean Diet?

While the Mediterranean diet is widely recognized as a "longevity diet," its close relative, the Atlantic Diet, is gaining favor among nutritionists for its impressive cardiovascular protection and insulin resistance improvement. It is not only as effective as the Mediterranean diet but is also considered more flexible and easier to follow.

The Atlantic Diet originates from the traditional eating habits of the northern regions of Portugal and the northwest regions of Spain along the Atlantic coast. Residents of these areas have lower rates of cardiovascular diseases, and a substantial number of centenarians were reported in a 2020 study. Nutritionist Guo Huanfen suggests that the diet's richness in flavonoids may be a contributing factor, as higher levels of flavonoids were found in the blood of locals, possibly due to the abundance of flavonoid-rich foods such as potatoes and pumpkins in the region.

Benefits of the Atlantic Diet:

Recent research published in the "JAMA Network Open" suggests that the Atlantic Diet can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome by half, a condition linked to diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Previous studies have also found that adhering to the Atlantic Diet can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer while improving insulin resistance, blood pressure, total cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference, and even alleviate emotional issues like depression and anxiety.

Key Differences between the Atlantic and Mediterranean Diets:

Both diets share similarities as they emphasize natural, unprocessed, and locally sourced foods, preferring cooking methods like steaming, roasting, and stewing over frying or deep-frying. However, the Atlantic Diet leans more towards seafood, particularly fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like mackerel, sardines, and salmon, while the Mediterranean Diet places a greater emphasis on a plant-based diet.

Practicing the "Taiwanese version" of the Atlantic Diet:

Implementing the Atlantic Diet is relatively achievable, with fewer restrictions compared to the Mediterranean Diet. Local seasonal vegetables such as cruciferous vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, potatoes, and onions can be incorporated into the diet for essential nutrients.

Adopting local specialties inspired by Spanish or Portuguese cuisine, such as Spanish seafood rice or Portuguese fish stew, can highlight the core features of the Atlantic Diet, featuring a variety of seafood, fresh fruits, and vegetables prepared through stewing. Making simple changes, such as choosing whole grains over refined starches, incorporating more fish or seafood, increasing the proportion of fruits and vegetables, opting for lean meats over red meats, and minimizing processed food intake, can help adapt to the Atlantic Diet.

Nutritionist Guo Huanfen advises paying attention to fruit selection in Taiwan due to the common issue of elevated blood sugar levels caused by overly sweet fruits. Choosing less sweet fruits and incorporating fruits, nuts, and other alternatives instead of sugary treats can contribute to successful adherence to the Atlantic Diet.



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