(HealthDay News) — Numerous studies have extolled the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Now, research suggests the regimen may also increase levels of beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). The findings were published online September 29 in Gut.
A study of 153 Italian adults found higher levels of SCFAs in vegans, vegetarians, and those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet. The diet includes large amounts of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and cereals; moderately high amounts of fish; low levels of saturated fat, red meat, and dairy products; and some alcohol.
Levels of SCFAs can naturally vary with age and gender, but these findings suggest that eating a plant-based, high-fiber diet increases levels. The researchers also found that vegans or vegetarians had relatively low levels of urinary trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Among non-vegetarians, people who adhered to the Mediterranean diet also had relatively low TMAO levels, the researchers said.
“We provide here tangible evidence for the impact of a healthy diet and a Mediterranean dietary pattern,” Danilo Ercolini, PhD, of the University of Naples in Italy, and colleagues conclude. “Western omnivore diets are not necessarily detrimental when a certain consumption level of [plant] foods is included.”