Atlantic diet linked to health benefits, but watch the red meat 

People sitting at a table eating and drinking red wine.

February 27, 2024 — People who eat the Atlantic diet, which is based on traditional eating patterns in northwest Spain and northern Portugal, may reduce their risk of developing metabolic syndrome—the group of risk factors including obesity, and high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, that increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes—according to new research.

With its emphasis on fresh fish, seasonal vegetables, whole grains, and moderate wine consumption, the diet is similar to the more-studied Mediterranean diet; however, it allows for more red meat, dairy, and potatoes. In addition to specific types of foods, both dietary patterns emphasize daily physical activity, mindful eating, and socializing over food. 

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who have studied the Mediterranean diet, but who were not involved in the Atlantic diet study, discussed the diets in recent news stories.

Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, said in a February 13 CNN article that the new findings confirm that the principles of the Mediterranean diet—including its social and cultural aspects—can be also applied to other cultures.  

Meals are often communal in countries where the Atlantic diet and the Mediterranean diet are traditional, “fostering a sense of community and potentially improving the quality of life in young and older populations,” noted Marta Guasch-Ferré, adjunct associate professor of nutrition, in a February 21 Verywell Health article. 

However, she cautioned against one aspect of the traditional Atlantic diet—red meat. “We do know that the high consumption of these types of food is associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer,” she said.

Read the CNN article: A cousin to the Mediterranean diet: The Atlantic diet explained

Read the Verywell Health article: What Is the Atlantic Diet?

photo: iStock / webphotographeer