Study: Which diet is actually best for your health?


Many of us use the New Year holiday as a time to take a pause and make a plan for our health and well-being. Unsurprisingly, it’s a time when many people begin to practice better habits, which might include a diet aimed at dropping extra pounds.

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In a study published in 2014, Yale University researchers asked the question on the minds of many who are pondering a change in habits: “Can we say what diet is best for health?”

The study reviewed six popular diets professing to be a path to health, whether through weight loss or maintenance of a healthy weight, with nutrients necessary for optimal well-being:

  •     Low carbohydrates
  •     Low-fat/vegetarian/vegan
  •     Low-glycemic
  •     Mediterranean
  •     Mixed/balanced
  •     Paleolithic

The conclusion of the study, after comparing all the diets, was three-part:


“The aggregation of evidence in support of …(a) diets comprising preferentially minimally processed foods direct from nature and food made up of such ingredients, (b) diets comprising mostly plants, and (c) diets in which animal foods are themselves the products, directly or ultimately, of pure plant foods—the composition of animal flesh and milk is as much influenced by diet as we are (31)—…is noteworthy for its breadth, depth, diversity of methods, and consistency of findings. The case that we should, indeed, eat true food, mostly plants, is all but incontrovertible. Perhaps fortuitously, this same dietary theme offers considerable advantages to other species, the environment around us, and even the ecology within us (136).”

In short: Eat your vegetables. In fact, build your diet around vegetables.

The study authors, D.L. Katz and S. Meller, end their conclusions by urging the public discussion to focus less on one diet versus another and more on cultural changes that move society, at large, toward better eating patterns.

“The clutter of competing claims likely obscures the established body of knowledge and forestalls progress, much like the proverbial trees and forest (76, 91). We need less debate about what diet is good for health, and much more attention directed at how best to move our cultures/societies in the direction of the well-established theme of optimal eating, for we remain mired a long way from it. “

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