Real Food Best Diet
An expert in disease prevention who assessed all the popular diets to try and find the best eating plan for optimum health has come out with a simple but possibly revolutionary recommendation: Real food is best.”
Dr David Katz from Yale University’s Prevention Research Centre was asked by scientific publisher Annual Reviews to compare the medical evidence against every mainstream diet – from low carb low fat to Paleolithic, Mediterranean and vegan and everything in between…
He concluded no diet is clearly best, but there are common elements across eating patterns that are proven to be beneficial to health.
Not Too Much, Mostly Plants
And they came down to: “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”
Or in simple terms, he echoes foodie author Michael Pollan’s advice to “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” in a New York Times magazine article on “nutritionism.”
Despite the pervasiveness of various diets in culture and media, Dr Katz and his assistant researcher Stephanie Meller say “There have been no rigorous, long-term studies comparing contenders for best diet laurels using methodology that precludes bias and confounding. For many reasons, such studies are unlikely.”
Less Heart Disease and Cancer
But proven health benefits come from “nutritionally-replete plant-based diets” including fewer cancers and less heart disease.
These diets ideally included not just fruits and vegetables, but whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Dr Katz and Stephanie Meller found “no decisive evidence” that low-fat diets are better than diets high in healthful fats, like the Mediterranean. Those fats include a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids than the typical American diet.
Mediterranean Diet Benefits
The Mediterranean diet, which is additionally defined by high intake of fiber, moderate alcohol and meat intake, antioxidants, and polyphenols, does have favorable effects on heart disease, cancer risk, obesity, metabolic syndrome, they note
It is also “is potentially associated with defense against neurodegenerative disease and preservation of cognitive function, reduced inflammation, and defense against asthma.”
They also found carbohydrate-selective diets to be better than categorically low-carbohydrate diets, in that incorporating whole grains is associated with lower risks for cancers and better control of body weight.
Eliminating Chronic Disease
Dr Katz says he “really at times feel like crying, when I think about that we’re paying for ignorance with human lives. We could eliminate 80 per cent of chronic disease” with proper diet, he says.”
Twenty years ago, influential research in the Journal of the American Medical Association (“Actual Causes of Death in the United States“) put diet on a short list of the lifestyle factors blamed for half of deaths in 1990. “Here we are more than 20 years later and we’ve made just about no progress.”