Of All the Nutty Diets on the Planet, Which One Is the Best?

Two health experts from Yale analyzed the most popular eating plans in order to uncover the healthiest one

Okay, so out of all of the diets on the planet, which one is the best in terms of both weight loss and overall health? Low-carb? Low-fat? Low-taste?

This is the million-dollar question that David L. Katz, the founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, and his colleague Stephanie Meller, set out to answer in their latest paper published in this month’s Annual Review of Public Health.

After examining the research connected to the most well-known diets — which included low-carb, low-fat-vegetarian, low-glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced, Paleolithic, vegan, and others (like juicing and raw-food)—they concluded that…well, none of these diet deserved to wear the crown.

It’s not that they’re all bad, but like most things in life, each one has their pros and cons (and some more than others). They did, however, discover the healthiest common denominator among all eating patterns. That, in a nutshell, is real food — foods direct from nature, mostly plants, that are minimally processed.

Here’s another rule to follow — the more rules to follow, the more reasons to say no to that plan.

“If the diet denotes a very specific set of rigid principles, then even this necessarily limited representation of a vast literature is more than sufficient to answer with a decisive no. If, however, by diet we mean a more general dietary pattern, a less rigid set of guiding principles, the answer reverts to an equally decisive yes.”

Even more interesting (okay, entertaining) is the part where Dr. Katz and Meller described the reason behind the confusion — and for the exaggerated and competing claims — in the oversaturated diet market: “If as a society we were genuinely interested in consensus about the best dietary pattern, rather than a never-ending parade of beauty pageant contestants, the compatibilities and complementarities of all reasonable candidates for best diet would be fairly evident.”

In other words, pass the carrot stick.

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