The Mediterranean diet, typically high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish and olive oil and a low intake of meat and dairy foods, is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes and forms the backbone of dietary guidelines to stave off coronary heart disease.

It is thought that its impact is related to higher dietary intake of polyphenols, ‘healthy’ fats and fibre and lower animal protein intake.

New research published in the journal Heart​ suggests a ‘greener’ version of the diet, consisting of more vegetables, green tea and duckweed, might be even better for health.

The potential superfood lurking in garden ponds

Duckweed, or water lentils, is a family of small flowing plants that float on the surface of ponds and lakes, similar to water lilies. The water lentil has hailed as the world’s most complete food source as a result of its high levels and quality of protein, vitamins and minerals in the plant. If duckweed is grown under optimal conditions, it is claimed it can contain up to 40% of protein. It is also believed to be a potential plant-based source of B12, otherwise only naturally found in meat, milk cheese and eggs.

Researchers randomly assigned 294 sedentary and moderately obese people (BMI of 31) with an average age of 51 into three dietary groups.

The first group received guidance on boosting physical activity and basic guidelines for achieving a healthy diet.

The second received the same physical activity guidance plus advice on following a calorie-restricted (1500-1800 kcal/day for men and 1200-1400 kcal/ day for women) traditional Mediterranean diet.