Its creators have designed an alternative to the Mediterranean diet and the consumption of salmon that provides healthy benefits at the same time.

A couple of avocados cut in half.

Salmon is the king of fatty fish: it accounts for 13% of fish consumption in Spain, ranking as a main source of heart-healthy fatty acids. But it is not the only resource at our disposal: trout, a freshwater fish slightly less rich in omega-3s but with interesting nutritional properties to incorporate into our diet, it can help us improve our health and even lose weight when other dietary approaches have failed.

This is stated by a study published in the journal Nutrients and in which Colombian and Spanish researchers have tested a new approach against obesity and overweight based on four ingredients: fruit, avocado, whole grain and trout. The diet FAWGT is rich in dietary fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins C and E, which contribute to a slower metabolism of sugars in food. This, in turn, protects against diseases such as type 2 diabetes and slows down the accumulation of fat.

“In the countries of Mediterranean Europe, a healthy dietary model based on the consumption of olive oil, nuts, vegetables and fish followed for millennia has shown in interventions the ability to reduce the levels of lipoproteins rich in triglycerides”, write the authors, who extend the benefits to a reduction of all types of cholesterol. The Nordic diet, starring salmon, is also healthyBut these ingredients are not available to all populations on the planet, they argue. Therefore, it is essential to look for alternatives that also broaden the range of possibilities.

With this hypothesis in mind, 44 participants between 45 and 60 years old and with a diagnosis of obesity were selected in the coffee growing regions of Colombia. The challenge was to design a healthy diet for them based on local products. The Fruits -granadilla, chontaduro, cape gooseberries or carambola- were the first choice as an abundant source of vitamins and antioxidants, completed with vegetables, cereals -arepas- and trout that complete the traditional diet in the area. The nutritional breakdown was a 14–20% protein, 20–35% fat, and 50–65% carbohydrates.

For each patient, in addition, analytics were obtained after providing a breakfast designed according to the parameters FAWGT. They included the following ingredients: arepas of unrefined cornmeal, cheese, oatmeal, passion fruit, mango, flaxseed, walnuts, almonds, peanuts and yogurt. For comparison, having breakfast in the style of these regions would have included eggs, cheese, butter, whole milk, traditional arepa made from refined corn flour, fritters made from refined wheat flour and cheese, sugar and, of course, coffee.

During the next eight weeks, the participants had to eat meals based on the FAWGT diet, which, in addition to the ingredients already mentioned, could incorporate a series of commonly consumed foods: rice, lentils, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, onion, beans, orange, apple, mandarin pear, pineapple and papaya. In this way, too strict a limitation to the variety of foods that would have derailed the trial due to fatigue was avoided, while allowing the use of local products.

At the end of the study period, the researchers were able to verify that the participants had improved metabolic health, particularly in postprandial lipemia – the time after a meal when harmful fats such as triglycerides accumulate in the arteries – and insulin resistance, that is, the ability to metabolize sugars in the blood. This was produced, the authors emphasize, due to the increase in the intake of heart-healthy fatty acids -omega 3 and MUFAs-, fiber and antioxidants.

Still, the participants did not lose much weight. However, there are two factors to take into account: that the period of follow-up of the diet was short and that they were not asked to adopt other healthy habits such as frequent exercise, essential for sustained weight loss. However, the evidence of a lower accumulation of lipids suggests that a diet of this type would improve metabolic and cardiovascular health and would contribute to reaching an adequate weight within a general approach to weight loss.