There are many different dietary patterns, each with it’s own set of ardent supporters. The supporters of each diet often demonize certain food groups and thus other dietary patterns, leaving the general public totally confused as to what a healthful diet is. What’s the optimal diet? Does science have an answer? Two scientists out of Yale University recently wrote a review of the scientific evidence for and against the most popular mainstream diets (low-carb, low-fat/ vegetarian, vegan, low-glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced and Paleo).
In the end, the researchers found no evidence to support the superiority of any one diet. The key takeaway was to focus not so much on how these diets differ, but in what they have in common. There is overwhelming evidence supporting: “(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.”
As the researchers said, “guidance that places an exaggerated emphasis on any one nutrient or food is ill advised.” If, however, you are looking for a simple rule, eliminating processed foods and eating natural, whole foods is probably the best place to start.
Katz, D.L.; Meller, S. Can We Say What Diet is Best for Health? Annual Review of Public Health. Vol 35, Mar 2014, 83-103.