TUESDAY, Sept. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) - Numerous studies have extolled the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Now, research suggests the regimen may also boost levels of beneficial fatty acids. These so-called "short chain fatty acids" are produced by bacteria in the intestine during fermentation of insoluble fiber from fruits, vegetables and legumes. The fatty acids are believed to provide a number of health benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease and inflammatory diseases, an Italian team reports in the Sept. 29 issue of the journal Gut.
The study found higher levels of short chain fatty acids in vegans, vegetarians and those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet. The diet includes large amounts of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and cereals; moderately high amounts of fish; low levels of saturated fat, red meat and diary products; and some alcohol.These findings suggest that eating a high-fiber diet does appear to boost their levels, Ercolini's team said. "Multiple studies have shown the benefits of the Mediterranean diet," noted one U.S. expert, cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum. The study also showed that vegans or vegetarians had relatively low levels of a compound called trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which has been linked to heart disease. Among non-vegetarians, people who adhered to the Mediterranean diet also had relatively low TMAO levels, the researchers said. The take-away message from this study is to use animal-based proteins only as condiments.