The Mediterranean Diet Helps Reduce Hepatic Fat: Study

The Mediterranean diet was effective at reducing hepatic fat content (HFC) compared to a low-fat diet, according to a new analysis.

The new study published in the Journal of Hepatology looked at whether HFC losses caused by dietary interventions were associated with specific visceral adipose tissue loss. The study population included 278 participants with abdominal obesity/dyslipidemia were randomly assigned to low-fat or Mediterranean/low-carbohydrate diet with and without physical activity. Abdominal fat depots were evaluated using MRI.

The study period lasted 18 months. Average participant age was 48 years (88% men), with a mean body mass index of 30.8 kg/m2; HFC=10.2%). The analysis showed that percentage HFC decreased after six and 18 months compared to baseline, and that a reduction in HFC was associated with decreased in visceral adipose tissue beyond weight loss. Percentage HFC was independently associated with reductions in serum gamma-glutamyl-transferase and alanine aminotransferase, circulating chemerin, and HbA1c (P<0.05). The Mediterranean diet was associated with a significantly greater percentage decrease in HFC (P=0.036) compared to a low-fat diet, as well as improvements in cardiometabolic risk parameters (P<0.05) after controlling for visceral adipose tissue loss. Although the Mediterranean diet was associated with greater decreases in triglycerides, triglyceride/HDL ratio, and cardiovascular risk score were attenuated when controlling for HFC changes.

“High hepatic fat content is associated with metabolic syndrome, type two diabetes mellitus, and coronary heart disease,” the researchers wrote in their abstract. “In this 18-month intervention trial, Mediterranean/low-carbohydrate diet induced a greater decrease in hepatic fat content than low-fat diet, and the beneficial health effects were beyond the favorable effects of visceral fat loss.”