Science compared every diet. The winner? Real food!

shutterstock_194081942Dr. David Katz and Dr. Stephanie Meller, at Yale University, completed a survey of the published research on diet over the past decade. The primary finding, surveying thousands of studies?

“A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”

Score one for my mission. This is what we teach. Eat plants, unprocessed ones!

The study compared low carb, low-fat, low glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced (DASH), Paleolithic, vegan, and many other diets.

Fewer cancers and less heart disease are documented in thousands of published studies. The most effective diets included not just fruits and vegetables, but whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Some other interesting findings:

Katz and 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.

shutterstock_212666641Finally, about the very popular fad, the “Paleo Diet”, Katz and Meller wrote:

“If Paleolithic eating is loosely interpreted to mean a diet based mostly on meat, no meaningful interpretation of health effects is possible.” They note that the composition of most meat in today’s food supply is not similar to that of mammoth meat, and that most plants available during the Stone Age are today extinct. [In other words, GSG interpretation, it’s not even possible to “follow” the diet Paleolithic man ate!]

Dr. Katz says, of the “dieting” landscape in the popular media:

shutterstock_136284278“It’s not just linguistic…I really at times feel like crying, when I think about that we’re paying for ignorance with human lives. At times, I hate the people with alphabet soup after their names who are promising the moon and the stars with certainty. I hate knowing that the next person is already rubbing his or her hands together with the next fad to make it on the bestseller list.”

Another GSG teaching confirmed by the Yale study:

Exaggerated emphasis on a single nutrient or food is inadvisable. The result, Katz and Meller write, is constant confusion and doubt. My conclusion, instead, is to just eat a wide variety of whole, colorful, unprocessed plant foods. Greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

6 thoughts on “Science compared every diet. The winner? Real food!

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  1. I love this quote from the article, too: “If you eat food direct from nature,” Katz added, “you don’t even need to think about [determining the nutritional value of foods.] You don’t have to worry about trans fat or saturated fat or salt—most of our salt comes from processed food, not the salt shaker. If you focus on real food, nutrients tend to take care of themselves.”

  2. Robyn, I have enjoyed your webpage for sometime now — thank you for all you are doing! I have just read the Yale Survey information and I had one comment about the Paleo Diet that may contribute to your general knowledge. Per doctor’s order, I have been on the Paleo Diet for some months now and I believe you have been mis-informed about what the diet entails. The summative quote frpom the article, “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention,” could also, actually, refer to the Paleo diet. Paleo is a diet of mostly vegetables with some pasturized/wild meats. I realize there is more meat in there than what you are eating, and it does not have an overarching focus on “raw”, but the Paleo diet, itself is predominantly vegetables. Thanks. J.

    1. Hi J, not as originally authored–it was very meat heavy. But lots of people have promoted various permutations of it and some of them show up with things like quinoa and other foods (that weren’t available in the paleolithic era of course). Thanks for writing! I am glad to see some versions of “paleo” diets embrace far more plants.

  3. I agree with you Robin. It kind of simple isn’t it? Although it is kind of hard in this the so called modern age or maybe better said, the age of the greedy corporations and complicit governments.

  4. Thank you for pointing out just a few of the foibles of the “Cave Man” diet. Another being that they probably didn’t cook their meat.

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