A recent randomized controlled trial (C Properzi et al. Hepatology 2018; 68: 1741-54) compare the Mediterranean diet (MD) and a low-fat (LF) diet for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
A total of 48 patients completed the 12-week study and were analyzed; subjects had a mean BMI of 31. Both groups consumed a 2400-2600 kcal diet.
- Despite minimal weight loss, both groups had significant reduction in hepatic steatosis as determined by magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS): 25.0% in LF and 32.4% in MD. Both had wide confidence intervals due to the small number of subjects.
- Liver enzyme improved in both groups.
- Weight loss was minimal, 1.6 kg and 2.1 kg in LF and MD respectively
- Framingham Risk Score (FRS), cholesterol, triglycerides, and hemoglobin A1c were improved with MD but not with LF (all P<0.05)
The associated editorial (pg 1668-71) notes the following:
- “Considering the current evidence, recommending the MD for patients with NAFLD might be an appropriate therapeutic option, not least because …[of the} increased risk of CVD.”
- Longer-term RCTs are needed
- “It has to be stressed that, in most cases, any form of healthy diet (eg. LF or MD), which leads to caloric reduction…should be encourage for patients with NAFLD…The importance of weight loss has been highlighted in patients with biopsy-proven NASH.”
My take: If you have to make a dietary recommendation, this study indicates that MD is probably a better diet than LF in patients with NAFLD.
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