Everything You Need to Know About the Atlantic Diet

Everything You Need to Know About the Atlantic Diet

THE ATLANTIC DIET is making some serious waves lately—pun fully intended.

The buzz comes from a new study published in JAMA that found great health benefits associated with the diet, including a significant decrease in risk of metabolic syndrome—a collection of health markers, like high blood pressure and cholesterol, that raise the risk of cardiovascular disease issues such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

“The Atlantic Diet, also known as the Southern European Atlantic Diet, reflects eating styles of northwest Spain and Portugal,” says Rima Kleiner, R.D. Many facets of the diet and its related lifestyle changes are very similar to the neighboring Mediterranean diet. The two share an emphasis on nutrient-rich whole foods, with loads of fruits and vegetables, and practicing mindful eating.

The Atlantic does differs in some ways, though. It incorporates more lean meat, seafood, and dairy, says Yelena Wheeler, M.P.H., R.D.N. It also emphasizes different kinds of starches. Ready to do a deeper dive into this way of eating? Read on to learn more about this trending diet.

What is the Atlantic diet?

Think of the Atlantic diet as the Mediterranean diet with some noteworthy tweaks. “Think local and seasonal foods, particularly vegetables, seafood, fruits, legumes, olive oil and whole grains—the Atlantic diet also includes moderate amounts of dairy, red meat, and pork,” says Kleiner.

The Atlantic diet is heavy in foods like:

  • Wide range of fish, cod in particular
  • In-season vegetables, and vegetable soups
  • Chestnuts and potatoes as starches
  • Dried fruit
  • Olive oil
  • Beans
  • Citrus such as oranges and tangerines

Foods that are highly processed, high in salt, sugar, and other additives; including canned foods, fast food, and frozen TV dinners, are all advised to be avoided.

grilled halibut with capers,olives and tomatoes

LauriPatterson//Getty Images

What are the health benefits of the Atlantic diet?

As Kleiner says, the real benefits of this diet come from eating a variety of nutritious foods and living a life that promotes enjoying food leisurely and socially. The heavy emphasis on seafood, in particular, may be a particular boon for your health.

”Eating more seafood means getting more heart-healthy omega-3s for heart, brain, eye, and immune health,” says Kleiner. All the veggies do your body good, too: fiber-rich vegetables help support a healthy gut and cholesterol levels.

Like the Mediterranean diet, the Atlantic diet promotes consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats, says Wheeler. These types of foods tend to assist with decreasing inflammation, promoting a healthy gut microbiome, stabilizing blood sugars, and reducing the risk for cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure. The Atlantic diet may also help support healthy weight loss, due to its fiber and lean protein content.

More studies are proving it, too. “A study published in December 2023 found that eating the Atlantic Diet way lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers,” says Kleiner. Earlier studies revealed that this decrease risks of myocardial infarction (MI), lower inflammatory markers, healthy insulin and blood pressure levels.

While more research needs to be done to solidify these findings, study results so far seem encouraging.

Should I do the Atlantic diet?

In short, adhering to the Atlantic diet encourages “healthy behaviors everyone could include more of to help promote a healthy weight and lower insulin resistance and blood pressure, among other health benefits,” says Kleiner, such as eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

It’s more maintainable than other diets, too. It’s not extremely restrictive, allowing for the inclusion of various foods, thereby facilitating an ability to be sustained over the long-term, Wheeler says.

As always, consult with your doctor or registered dietitian before overhauling your eating regime. Chatting with a doctor or trusted healthcare professional before starting the Atlantic diet or any diet plan is especially important if you have unique gastrointestinal issues or for those who need to limit certain nutrients within their diets, says Wheeler, such as those on a fiber-restricted diet or on a renal diet.

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