(HealthDay News) — Numerous studies have extolled the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Now, research suggests the regimen may also increase levels of beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). The findings were published in Gut.

A study of 153 Italian adults found higher levels of SCFAs in vegans, vegetarians, and those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet. The diet includes large amounts of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and cereals; moderately high amounts of fish; low levels of saturated fat, red meat, and dairy products; and some alcohol.

Levels of SCFAs can naturally vary with age and gender, but these findings suggest that eating a plant-based, high-fiber diet increases levels. The researchers also found that vegans or vegetarians had relatively low levels of urinary trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which has been linked to cardiovascular disease. 

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Among non-vegetarians, people who adhered to the Mediterranean diet also had relatively low TMAO levels, the researchers said.

“We provide here tangible evidence for the impact of a healthy diet and a Mediterranean dietary pattern,” Danilo Ercolini, PhD, of the University of Naples in Italy, and colleagues conclude. “Western omnivore diets are not necessarily detrimental when a certain consumption level of [plant] foods is included.”


  1. De Filippis F, Pellegrini N, Vannini L, et al. High-level adherence to a Mediterranean diet beneficially impacts the gut microbiota and associated metabolome. Gut. 2015;doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2015-309957.