Atlantic Diet: Pros and Cons

Dietary patterns continue to evolve with many promising positive effects on nutrition and health. Compared to previous years, the focus has now shifted from an individual or isolated nutrients to dietary plans. Perhaps the most studied dietary pattern is the Mediterranean diet which has been shown to reduce cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and neurodegenerative diseases. However, a more recent pattern to emerge is the Atlantic Diet (AD). What is it and what are its pros and cons?

What is Atlantic Diet?

Food patterns seem to be differentiated by the country or region of origin. Atlantic Diet has its roots in Portugal and Galicia. The diet was thrown onto the world map when scientists from the Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic regions (who formed the European Center for the Atlantic Diet) joined forces to explore its implications on health.

In a nutshell, the Atlantic diet encourages:

  • Very high consumption of fish, and shellfish
  • High consumption of vegetables and fruits, especially citrus fruits and apples
  • Daily consumption of milk
  • Moderate consumption of lean meat in combination with potatoes and vegetables
  • Water should be given top priority although occasional wine is allowed
  • Treat the Atlantic diet pattern as a traditional cultural heritage and enjoy the pleasure of eating healthy meals

The AD discourages consumption of any type of processed foods, including fried foods and sugars. According to a study published in the International Journal of Food Studies, a typical Atlantic Diet looks like this:

  • Breakfast: One apple, a glass of milk (without sugar), and one slice of seed loaf with cheese.
  • Lunch: Vegetable soup prepared with an array of vegetables like carrots, cabbages or cauliflower and potatoes, seasoned with olive oil. One glass of wine and a piece of fruit.
  • Snack: A glass of milk (without sugar) and one slice of brown bread with turkey ham.
  • Dinner: One chicken steak, vegetable soup, rice and one piece of fruit for dessert. The vegetables should be seasoned with olive oil.

The Pros of Atlantic Diet

Promotes the Consumption of Naturally Healthy Foods

Like mentioned above, the Atlantic Diet involves eating plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and low alcohol consumption. Most of these foods are readily available and fish being in large supplies in the Atlantic regions, it makes it quite easy to follow the food pattern.

Prevents Cardiovascular Disease

In more ways, the Atlantic Diet pattern seems to borrow parts of the Mediterranean Diet but promotes high consumption of fish in place of meat. Fish is known to be the best supply of omega-3 fatty acids. In particular, studies have shown that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) may contribute to the prevention of coronary heart disease. The high fish consumption was also linked to reducing the risk factors associated with heart disease.

Reduces Diabetes

Several studies have concluded that compliance with the Atlantic Diet lifestyle led to lower risks of developing diabetes. Cod liver oil was shown to lower the risk of childhood-onset type I diabetes.

Lowers Risk of Developing Degenerative Disease

The Atlantic Diet promotes a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. Data compiled from several studies confirm that this might lower the risk of developing brain dysfunction and cataracts. This fact is supported due to the recommended daily use of olive oil, which is known for its antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil also helps to improve memory and moods.

Reduces Deaths Related to Heart Disease

Research to investigate the link between the Southern European Atlantic Diet (SEDA) and the low mortality rate due to heart disease found that the group that adhered to the diet pattern registered 33 percent lower risk of heart attack compared to the group that didn’t adhere to the diet pattern. There was also a significant improvement in heart disease risk factors and it was concluded that this diet plan reduces blood pressure, decreases plasma triacylglycerol’s, platelet aggression and inflammation.

The Cons of the Atlantic Diet Pattern

  • Sticking to a diet plan that restricts some of the most common foods is not easy. This diet restricts the consumption of red meat and processed foods which have taken root in the American population.
  • Making lifestyle changes might take some time getting used to. However, most of the foods proposed by this diet are healthy and packed with plenty of nutrition.
  • Some regions may not have a reliable supply of fish making this diet applicable to certain regions only.

Final Thoughts

The Atlantic Diet shares the many teachings of the Mediterranean diet but emphasizes more on eating foods rich in healthy fats and antioxidants. As a result, this promotes your heart’s health and prevents cardiovascular diseases. The inclusion of olive oil makes it a healthy diet pattern that can be recommended to anyone interested in keeping cardiovascular diseases at bay. More studies are required to shed more light on the health benefits of the Atlantic Diet plan on other high-risk diseases such as stroke, certain types of cancer and obesity.

All images by Pixabay

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