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Diet May Increase Levels of Hunger Hormone and Reduce Belly Fat

Ghrelin is a hormone often called the “hunger hormone” because it can stimulate appetite – which could be challenging for weight management.  On the other hand, it plays a role in helping keep blood sugar balanced and may help reduce fat buildup – which is beneficial.

Participants in the study included 294 adults with abdominal obesity or dyslipidemia. They were assigned to follow one of three diets for 18 months:

  1. Healthy dietary guidelines
  2. Mediterranean Diet
  3. Green-Mediterranean Diet (includes the leafy vegetable Mankai and green tea, and omits red meat)

The researchers measured fasting ghrelin levels at baseline and at the end of the study period. They also evaluated belly fat levels at baseline and at the end of the study period. 

Participants in the Green-Mediterranean diet saw a 10.5% increase in fasting ghrelin levels, compared to a 1.3% increase in healthy dietary guidelines participants and a 5.4% increase in Mediterranean Diet participants. Increased levels of fasting ghrelin levels have been associated with decreased risk of developing diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

Participants in the Green-Mediterranean diet group also saw improvements in insulin sensitivity and reductions in belly fat. 

The study was conducted by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The study was published online ahead of print on October 6, 2021 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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