If you’re trying to implement healthier eating habits, it can be tough to figure out where to start. Maybe one of your friends has been trying to get you to cut added sugars for years now while another swears that going gluten-free changed her life. Thankfully, emerging research is here to make your choice easier.
A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared two of the most popular diets right now, the vegan diet and the Mediterranean diet, to see how they affected participants’ weight as well as other risk factors for heart disease. The results? Sticking to a low-fat vegan diet is better for your health than going with the Mediterranean diet. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now).
“The evidence is clear that a plant-based diet is a great way to manage weight and that all the side effects are good ones—from boosting heart health and improving cholesterol to lowering the risk for diabetes,” corresponding author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, MBA, Director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine told Eat This, Not That! in an interview.
More specifically, the study found that the vegan diet can lower “bad” cholesterol levels known as LDL, improve insulin sensitivity, and lead to more weight loss. The Mediterranean diet’s only win was that it led to an even greater blood pressure decrease than the low-fat vegan diet, though both diets yielded positive effects. It is also worth noting that the study did not require participants to count calories or track nutrients.
“We weren’t surprised to see that people saw improvements on the plant-based diet,” said Kahleova. “But, because the Mediterranean diet is often touted for weight loss, it was surprising to see that participants experienced very small changes—if any at all—when it came to their weight.”
“We hope that this study will inspire people to see that a vegan diet may benefit them in many ways and will decide to try it out,” she adds.
Still not convinced? To learn about more ways cutting out animal products can make you feel better, check out our 28 Top Health Reasons to Go Vegan.