Amby Burfoot has an article that asks, “what is the healthiest diet?” for the general public. His answer comes from the Journal of Nutrition. Looks like there are four winners. Quoting Mr. Burfoot:
They differ slightly in the degree to which they favor, or disfavor, certain foods and food types, such as the following:
- The Healthy Eating Index 2010: Considers low-fat dairy products a plus.
- The Alternative Healthy Eating Index 2010: Considers nuts/legumes a plus, as well as moderate alcohol consumption. Trans fats, sugary beverages, salt, and red meat get a minus.
- The Alternate Mediterranean Diet: Considers fish, nuts/legumes, and moderate alcohol a plus; red meat, a minus.
- The DASH Diet: Considers low-fat dairy and nuts/legumes a plus; sugary beverages, salt, and red meat get a minus.
I think the Mediterranean diet has the most and best data to support it.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Well, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. Preserved brain function and the Mediterranean diet were positively associated in a study involving Americans in Utah. This fits with prior observations that the Mediterranean diet prevents dementia.
In the study at hand, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) also protected the brain:
Higher levels of compliance with both the DASH and Mediterranean dietary patterns were associated with consistently higher levels of cognitive function in elderly men and women over an 11-y period. Whole grains and nuts and legumes were positively associated with higher cognitive functions and may be core neuroprotective foods common to various healthy plant-centered diets around the globe.
See the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition for details.
US News and World Report a couple months ago ranked 20 popular diets for weight loss, overall healthfulness, and diabetes and heart disease management. Overall best diet was awarded to the DASH diet. Mediterranean came in No.2.
The Mayo Clinic has free info on the DASH diet. Here’s my definition of the Mediterranean diet.
–Steve Parker, M.D.