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The health benefit all fad diets have in common


A paper recently published in The Annual Review of Public Health set out to determine which popular diet is the healthiest. But instead of coming up with a clear winner, Yale researchers and paper authors David Katz and Samuel Meller found that each of the options is beneficial — for the same reason.

As it turns out, these diets all generally improve the health of participants because they encourage people to avoid processed foods and consume more plants. Whether people take the meat-heavy Paleo route, opt for low-carb options, or go full-on vegetarian, the common benefits are the same. Though some of these diets encourage more meat eating, the plant-based principle still applies. Katz and Meller affirmed that as long as people consume meat from animals fed a more natural plant-based diet, they will reap the same benefits as vegetarian diets. (The meat and dairy produced by the grain-based diets of animals raised in factory farms is less nutritious than meat from pasture-raised animals.)

So what do these findings mean? Essentially that nutrition writer Michael Pollan had the answer the whole time: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." --Monica Nickelsburg

(Annual Review of Public Health)