What scientists say about the viral Atlantic diet

What scientists say about the viral Atlantic diet

You’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet, but what about its cousin: the Atlantic diet?

Since the start of 2024, the Atlantic diet has received a flurry of interest as TikTok users and influencers have picked up on the latest dieting trend. But what is the Atlantic diet, and what does science say about it?

Newsweek spoke to experts to find out.

“The Atlantic diet, originating from northwestern Spain and northern Portugal, is characterized by its emphasis on fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients,” Maria del Mar Calvo Malvar, a specialist in Laboratory Medicine at the Clinical University Hospital of Santiago de Compostela in Spain who has published several papers on the Atlantic diet, told Newsweek.

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“Staples include fruits, vegetables, especially Brassica family vegetables, whole grains (mainly bread), legumes, potatoes, fish, and dairy products, with fish and seafood consumed at least 3 to 4 times weekly,” she said.

“Olive oil is the primary cooking fat, and wine is preferred over beer. Cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, baking, grilling, or stewing are favored over frying and to preserve nutritional value.”

It’s similar to the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and olive oil. It also includes a moderate intake of cheese and fish and a limited intake of red and processed meats. But it’s the foods consumed within these groups that set these two diets apart.

“In contrast to the Mediterranean diet, which also emphasizes fresh, seasonal ingredients and the use of olive oil, the Atlantic diet showcases a different selection of vegetables and fruits, along with varied grain consumption,” Calvo Malvar said.

“The Brassica vegetable [that is broccoli, cabbage, kale and other green leafy vegetables] is consumed in abundance in Atlantic cuisine, with recognized disease preventive benefits. Fish and dairy consumption are higher in Atlantic gastronomy, and wine takes precedence over beer.”

What Scientists Are Saying About Atlantic Diet
Newsweek illustration. Scientists discuss the benefits of the Atlantic diet and the difference between it and the Mediterranean diet.
Newsweek illustration. Scientists discuss the benefits of the Atlantic diet and the difference between it and the Mediterranean diet.
Photo Illustration by Newsweek

Alberto Coelho, a professor of Chemistry at the University of Santiago de Compostela, added that the types of fish consumed in the Atlantic diet also differ from those consumed in a traditional Mediterranean diet.

“While both the Mediterranean Diet and the Southern European Atlantic Diet include the consumption of fresh fish and seafood, the Southern European Atlantic Diet may emphasize more the consumption of typical Atlantic seafood, such as cod, sardines, and local shellfish,” Coelho told Newsweek.

“Given access to the oceans, the Atlantic diet tends to include a significant amount of fresh fish and seafood such as salmon, cod, sardines, mussels, and shrimp. Although fish is a central part of the Atlantic diet, it may also include moderate consumption of lean meats such as poultry and game.”

Now that we’ve established what the Atlantic diet is, what are the health benefits associated with this way of eating?

“The main benefit provided by the Atlantic diet…is well-being and longevity,” Coelho said. “The data show evidence of anticancer and antioxidant activity from different components of the Southern European Atlantic Diet, present in octopus, mussels, brassicas, native olive oil, Padron peppers, among other widely consumed foods.”

Indeed, a study from researchers in Madria, Porto and Harvard, published in the journal BMC Medicine in 2021, found that adherence to the Atlantic diet in adults over the age of 60 was associated with lower all-cause mortality.

Research from Calvo Malvar’s lab has shown that this diet may also benefit metabolic health.

“In our latest study, published in the JAMA Network, we found that a nutritional intervention in families following the Atlantic diet reduced the risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome by one-third in the intervention group compared to the controls,” she said.

“This is a significant finding because Metabolic Syndrome affects nearly 25 percent of the general adult population globally, and its diagnosis greatly increases the likelihood of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cerebrovascular diseases.

“Specifically, the Atlantic diet has been correlated with a healthy gut microbiota and low levels of various cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein (an inflammation marker), insulin resistance, blood pressure, body weight, and waist circumference, among others.”

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So does this make the Atlantic diet better than the Mediterranean?

“I wouldn’t focus the discourse on whether one is better than the other,” Coelho said. “They are complementary diets and both very healthy [and] the choice between the Southern Atlantic diet and the Mediterranean diet may depend on a variety of personal and contextual factors.”

Calvo Malvar agreed: “Both dietary patterns have shown to be healthy and enjoyable,” she added. “I believe the question is not about determining which one is more or less healthy, or more or less enjoyable, but rather which dietary pattern best suits the population where it is being promoted. Diet is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases, and dietary changes are a key strategy to prevent millions of deaths per year around the world.

“The Atlantic diet’s core principles offer a unique combination of flexibility, palatability, satiating capacity, and affordability, making it an attractive option for individuals seeking healthy dietary choices. Moreover, its culinary tradition, characterized by imaginative yet simple dishes, lends itself well to the time constraints prevalent in today’s busy lifestyles.”

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Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Source: newsweek.com

Kerri Waldron

My name is Kerri Waldron and I am an avid healthy lifestyle participant who lives by proper nutrition and keeping active. One of the things I love best is to get to where I am going by walking every chance I get. If you want to feel great with renewed energy, you have to practice good nutrition and stay active.

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