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  • The Atlantic diet, based on eating habits in Spain and Portugal, may help prevent chronic disease. 
  • It’s similar to the Mediterranean diet, but includes more starchy carbs, dairy, and some meat.
  • A study found people on the Atlantic diet had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and less belly fat. 
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If you love carbs and want to eat more healthfully, a close neighbor of the Mediterranean diet may be just the thing.

The Atlantic diet, based on traditional eating habits in northern Spain and Portugal, may help prevent chronic illness and promote a healthy metabolism, according to a study published February 7 in JAMA Network Open.

And new research suggests that this carb-heavy, dairy-friendly eating plan may have similar health benefits to the much-praised Mediterranean diet in protecting metabolic health and preventing chronic disease.

What is the Atlantic diet?

The Atlantic diet diet focuses on plenty of longevity-boosting foods like produce, olive oil, beans, seafood, and even some wine. It’s similar to the Mediterranean diet, ranked as one of the healthiest ways to eat, emphasizing mostly unprocessed whole foods.

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But the Atlantic diet features even more carbs, specifically whole grains and starchy foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes. It recommends six to eight servings of these a day. It also includes cheese and other dairy, along with lean meats, and red meat in moderation.

What are the benefits of the Atlantic diet?

Researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain followed 231 families (including 518 people) from rural Spain over six months, analyzing their metabolic health with measurements like their weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Half the participants were randomly assigned to follow a traditional Atlantic diet, and provided with food, cooking classes, and other resources to do so. The other half were instructed to follow their habitual eating patterns.

By the end of the six months, people on the Atlantic diet were 68% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a collection of health issues like risky cholesterol levels, that can increase the odds of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.

They also had trimmer waistlines and were less likely to have high levels of belly fat compared to their peers who didn’t follow the diet, researchers found.

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However, the diet didn’t seem to make a difference to specific health measures like blood pressure or blood sugar levels, so more research is needed to understand how it works and who could benefit.

For now, researchers did find that a key factor in the health benefits was participants following the diet as a family. Previous research suggests social support can make it easier to create healthy habits, and maintain them.

And there’s good evidence that eating more nutrient-dense whole foods has a wealth of benefits for health and longevity, whether you make more Mediterranean meals, buy into the “Blue Zones” style of eating, or opt for the Atlantic diet.

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