“Which is the best diet?” I am asked this simple question more than anything else (even more than “How do I get six-pack abs? – hint: the answer is not sit-ups, but we’ll discuss that another time…)
Before I give an answer that will transform their life, I always follow up with a question of my own… “What are your goals?” In other words, are you are trying to lose weight, tone up, put on muscle, or simply eat a better diet for overall health? Your answer matters, because it will help guide which kind of diet you would benefit from the most.
But, as I’ve learned over many years, no matter what your goals are right now, there are certain dietary rules that always hold true for everyone. In other words, I have found that certain diets are far more beneficial than others, regardless of your specific goals. And I think that if you start eating a healthier diet, then many of your goals can much more easily be achieved and you will find many other benefits than you might have imagined (i.e. improved energy, sleep, hormonal balance, overall health, etc.)!
So, which one would I recommend? Well, studies have been consistent in recommending the Mediterranean Diet as one of the best choices you can make for yourself for two simple reasons… One, it is based off fresh and natural whole foods. And two, it is primarily plant based.
Let’s start with number one… One of the secrets I tell people when trying to improve their diet is to avoid the middle aisles of a market. They are loading with pre-packaged foods laced with sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, chemicals and preservatives.
Instead, I encourage people to stick to the outer areas of a market, where you will find whole foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, grains, etc. The body was not designed to process and digest an overabundance of unhealthy ingredients, especially chemicals and preservatives. They may be an economical way for companies to make more profit, but it is NOT good for your body. So, the more whole foods you eat everyday, the healthier you will be.
Second, it has been overwhelmingly been shown through thousands of studies that plant based diets are the best diets on earth. Plant based diets are higher in nutrients that your body needs and much lower in unhealthy fat and cholesterol that your body doesn’t need. So, we consistently see dramatically lower incidences of cancer, heart disease and a huge variety of other deadly diseases in plant centered diets.
Since I always like to back up my statements with science, here are just a few examples of studies that support the Mediterranean Diet as a healthier choice for you…
The School of Public Health at Harvard University recently published a study showing that the Mediterranean Diet was linked with significantly lower risk factors for heart disease. Specifically, the people on the Mediterranean Diet had “a 35% decreased risk in metabolic syndrome, a condition with risk factors that include a large waistline, high triglyceride level, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol level, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.” And here’s an even bigger finding from the study… They found a 43% lower risk of weight gain!”
(Yang J, Farioli A, Korre M, Kales SN (2014) Modified Mediterranean Diet Score and Cardiovascular Risk in a North American Working Population. PLoS ONE 9(2): e87539. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087539)
In a recently published study from scientific journal Neurology, it was confirmed that eating an easy-to-follow Mediterranean diet can have lasting benefits for brain health. As CNN recently reported, “The researchers found that those who closely followed a Mediterranean-like diet were less likely to lose brain volume as they aged, compared with those who didn’t follow such a diet”.
In fact, the Mediterranean diet (which includes wine!) may help make your brain about five years younger!
(Neurology January 31, 2017 vol. 88 no. 5 449-455)
And last, but definitely not least, here is a recent study from Dr. David Katz at the Yale University Prevention Research Center that compared all the big diet fads out there today including Low carb, low fat, low glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced (DASH), Paleolithic, vegan, and elements of other diets…
They concluded that no diet may be the clear winner, but there are common elements that were beneficial across all eating patterns. As Dr. Katz said, “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”
(Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?D.L. Katz and S. MellerAnnual Review of Public Health 2014 35:1, 83-103 )
So, if you are looking for an extremely healthy diet that can be specifically tailored to your dietary goals, look no further than the Mediterranean Diet. It is healthy, delicious and made of all natural goodness.