Melbourne, Australia—A recent study by researchers from St. Vincent Hospital, Melbourne demonstrated that the merits of the Mediterranean Diet can extend beyond just weight loss.

The study included 12 non-diabetic patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (confirmed by liver biopsy). The highly controlled study revealed that a six-week Mediterranean Dietary intervention reduced liver fat by 39% when compared with the National Heart Foundation Diet from Australia. The subjects on the Mediterranean Diet showed significant improvement in insulin sensitivity, indicating a reduced risk of developing type-2 diabetes. These results were achieved even without weight loss, suggesting that variation in macronutrient intake alone without weight loss can improve metabolic health.

Those on the National Heart Foundation Diet did not have reduced liver fat, improved insulin sensitivity or weight loss. Previously, this was the only accepted therapeutic strategy for NAFLD reduction in Australia.

Marno Ryan, MBBS, M.D., said that studies connecting NAFLD to the diet have been inadequate by far, but now, evidence-based dietary advice can be offered to patients. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndromes, could affect up to 30% of the U.S. population.

These findings were presented at Liver Meeting 2011.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2012