A vegan diet is more effective for weight loss and cholesterol control than a Mediterranean diet, a new study suggests.
"Previous studies have suggested that both Mediterranean and vegan diets improve body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors, but until now, their relative efficacy had not been compared in a randomized trial," said researcher Hana Kahleova from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a non-profit organization in the US.
According to the researchers, a low-fat vegan diet has better outcomes for weight, body composition, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol levels, compared with a Mediterranean diet.
For the study, the team randomly assigned participants -- who were overweight and had no history of diabetes -- to a vegan diet or a Mediterranean diet in a 1:1 ratio.
For 16 weeks, half of the participants started with a low-fat vegan diet that eliminated animal products and focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
The other half started with the Mediterranean diet, which followed the PREDIMED protocol, which focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy, and extra virgin olive oil, while limiting or avoiding red meat and saturated fats.
The study found that the vegan diet decreased total and LDL cholesterol levels by 18.7 mg/dL and 15.3 mg/dL, respectively, while there were no significant cholesterol changes on the Mediterranean diet.
Blood pressure decreased on both diets, but more on the Mediterranean diet, the researchers said.