What Is the Atlantic Diet?

When you think of a diet with a region in the name, you think of the Mediterranean diet. It’s by far the most popular. While we rarely recommend diets, we always say the Mediterranean diet is healthy and a great option. However, the Atlantic diet has been in the news a lot recently. And it may rival the Mediterranean diet!

It may reduce the risk of health problems linked to heart and blood sugar concerns by half. The Atlantic diet is similar to both DASH and Mediterranean in that it emphasizes eating fewer processed foods, fish healthy fats and whole grains. But it focuses on stewed, boiled, baked and grilled foods. It also encourages eating seasonally and locally available foods. We have spoken about how the Mediterranean diet can be modified to fit more with diets closer to the foods a person is used to. But the Atlantic diet might be closer to what you already eat, making it easier to embrace.  

A study used 231 families to study the efficacy of the Atlantic diet. The researchers used diaries to collect information about the people’s diet, exercise and medication use. They found that people who stuck to the diet “significantly” lowered their risk of developing health concerns. Their waist circumference, weight and cholesterol decreased over six months.

This study showed benefits of the [Atlantic Diet] for multiple aspects of health, such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar control, and obesity,” said Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, an interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center. “These results should not be surprising as the diet is very similar to the well-studied and beneficial Mediterranean diet.”

The study is interesting as it looked at whole families rather than individuals. “By prioritizing shared meals and dietary habits within the family unit, individuals are more likely to adhere to healthier eating patterns,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Michelle Routhenstein. “This family-centric approach not only promotes the consumption of nutrient-dense foods but also fosters positive social interactions around mealtime.”

Ms. Routhenstein said that the differences in cooking style may be why the Atlantic diet appeared to be better than the Mediterranean diet in this study. “By prioritizing wholesome ingredients and traditional cooking methods such as stewing, this diet enhances the bioavailability of nutrients, ensuring that the body can better absorb and utilize them.”

Some people don’t have access to food grown locally. It might not be a practical option for you. However, we can take away the message that support can bolster healthy eating patterns and cutting down on processed food has significant health benefits. Both the Mediterranean and Atlantic diets are more about eating styles than specific rules. Picking the one closer to how you already eat could make healthy lifestyle changes easier to stick to!  

Banner image: Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash

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