A diet popular in northwestern Spain and Portugal may lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, according to new research.

The Atlantic diet, which is similar to the Mediterranean diet, comprises fresh, local fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, olive oil, fish and seafood, along with cheese, milk, meat and wine.

The research evaluated a previous study, made up of 574 participants who had to be part of a family unit of two or more members.

Families were divided into either the intervention group, made up of 121 families who followed the Atlantic diet, and a control group of 110 families who followed their normal diet.

Nutrition education, cooking classes and food parcels were delivered to the intervention group so participants could follow the Atlantic diet for six months.

Researchers noted the greatest improvement in metabolic syndrome was seen in the intervention group.

Among those without the syndrome, 2.7% of participants in the intervention group developed metabolic syndrome, compared to 7.3% in the control group.

People with metabolic syndrome usually have three or more of the following: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, raised blood sugar levels, high triglycerides and low HDL (‘good’) cholesterol.

The study also looked at the impact of the Atlantic diet on carbon footprint emissions.

The team found that the same reduction in carbon footprint was seen in both the control group and the Atlantic diet intervention group, prompting researchers to say that more studies are needed to thoroughly evaluate the effect of the Atlantic diet on the environment.

Study author Dr Mar Calvo-Malvar, a specialist in Laboratory Medicine at the University Clinical Hospital of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, said: “I believe our findings provide significant evidence regarding the potential of traditional diets to accelerate progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially on SDG 13 (health and climate action).

“We intend to continue studying the effects of the traditional Atlantic diet in broader populations and in different economic contexts.

“Additionally, we are exploring ways to promote the adoption of this diet as a strategy to improve public health and address environmental challenges.”

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