In the trial, the 294 participants were split into three groups: one followed a healthy dietary regimen; the next, a standard Mediterranean diet; and the third, a green modified Mediterranean diet. They were also all given access to a gym, for their exercise regimen.

The researchers found that while all the diets led to a decrease in liver fat, the most effective was the green-Mediterranean diet. This specific modification resulted in a 39% decrease in hepatic fat, while the classic version of the diet led to only a 20% decrease. Even when the results were adjusted to include the simple impact of weight loss, the benefits of the diet were still found to be significant.

At baseline, 62% of participants had NAFLD, but the green-Mediterranean diet group dropped that percent to 31.5% (the classic Mediterranean diet group only dropped to a 47.9% prevalence). The researchers also further investigated the impacts of specific foods assigned to the modified Mediterranean diet, concluding that greater amounts of Mankai and walnuts, with less red meats, was associated with liver fat loss.

“Addressing this common liver disease by targeted lifestyle intervention might promote a more effective nutritional strategy,” says Anat Yaskolka-Meir, Ph.D., first author of the study “This clinical trial demonstrates an effective nutritional tool for NAFLD beyond weight loss.”

The study suggests that while a diet like the Mediterranean diet is already a great place to start for promoting health, focusing on specific ingredients that provide particular nutrients can be a powerful tool for health intervention—but let’s not forget that nutrition should be a priority in helping prevent illness, too.

The information in this article is based on the findings of one study and is not intended to replace medical advice. While the results seem promising, more research is needed to validate the findings of this study.