Vegan diet outperforms Mediterranean diet in weight loss and heart health, study finds

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A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reveals that a low-fat vegan diet is more effective than a Mediterranean diet in terms of weight loss, body composition, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol levels.

The research, led by Dr. Hana Kahleova and Neal Barnard, was a randomized crossover trial involving participants who were overweight but had no history of diabetes.


Participants were assigned to either a vegan or Mediterranean diet group for 16 weeks, without any calorie restrictions. The vegan group abstained from animal products and consumed fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.

The Mediterranean group followed the PREDIMED protocol, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy, and extra virgin olive oil.

Following a four-week washout period, during which participants reverted to their baseline diets, the groups then switched diets for another 16 weeks.

Key Findings

Weight Loss: Participants lost an average of 6 kg (approximately 13 pounds) on the vegan diet, while there was no significant change with the Mediterranean diet.

Body Composition: The vegan diet led to a loss of 3.4 kg (about 7.5 pounds) more fat mass than the Mediterranean diet.

Visceral Fat: A greater reduction in visceral fat was observed on the vegan diet by 315 cm³.

Cholesterol Levels: The vegan diet decreased total and LDL cholesterol by 18.7 mg/dL and 15.3 mg/dL, respectively. The Mediterranean diet did not show significant changes in cholesterol levels.

Blood Pressure: Both diets led to a decrease in blood pressure, but the reduction was more significant on the Mediterranean diet (6.0 mm Hg compared to 3.2 mmHg on the vegan diet).

The authors suggest that the vegan diet was likely effective because of a reduction in calorie intake, an increase in fiber, and a decrease in fat and saturated fat consumption.

Neal Barnard, one of the study’s authors, criticized the Mediterranean diet for its inclusion of fatty fish, dairy, and oils, stating that it “crashed and burned” in terms of weight loss effectiveness.


This study adds a significant contribution to the ongoing debate on the most effective diets for weight loss and health improvement.

Dr. Kahleova recommends a plant-based diet as a viable option for those looking to achieve weight loss or improved health in the new year.

“In a randomized, controlled trial, the Mediterranean diet caused no weight loss at all.

The problem seems to be the inclusion of fatty fish, dairy products, and oils. In contrast, a low-fat vegan diet caused significant and consistent weight loss,” said Dr. Neal Barnard.

If you care about weight, please read studies that common eating habits may cause too much weight gain, and this exercise has unique benefits for weight loss.

For more information about weight, please see recent studies about best cheeses to improve diabetes and lose weight, and results showing how to drink water to lose weight.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

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