Wide Scale Diet Review Reveals the Truth behind Popular Diets

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Wednesday 1st March 2017

Juicing diets can be bad for you, a gluten-free diet does not appear to provide any benefits for people without intolerances and eggs still contain a lot of cholesterol, myth-busting research by cardiologists in the United States has revealed as it reviewed the evidence behind commonly discussed food myths and celebrity diets.

The research, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, was a review aimed at looking whether existing evidence can back up the claims of commonly promoted dietary patterns and so-called “superfoods”, with particular conclusions being drawn up for eggs (and dietary cholesterol as a whole), vegetable oils, berries and brightly coloured vegetables, antioxidant supplements, the cardiovascular benefits of nuts, leafy greens, juicing, vegan plant based diets, and gluten free diets.

The results in many ways are unlikely to surprise. Eggs, despite the commonly stated caveat that they do not increase the level of serum cholesterol in the bloodstream, they are still high in cholesterol and as such it is best to eat as little high cholesterol foods as possible. On the other hand, nuts, while also a fatty food are good to avoid the risk of heart disease, although there is advice to eat them in moderation to avoid eating too many calories.

There was a collective analysis of different vegetable oils, which have been claimed to have health benefits. In particular, it was noted that some tropical oils, and especially solid oils such as coconut and palm oils were high in saturated fat and therefore could also raise cholesterol. By contrast, vegetable, and especially olive oils were not only seen as healthier alternatives but in moderation could lead to a reduction in the risk of heart disease.

Whilst berries, especially more tropical and brightly coloured varieties have seen as a magic solution to boost antioxidant levels, the evidence here suggests that berries and so-called “purple” vegetables (red cabbage, red radishes and aubergines) are high in anti-oxidants which have evidence to suggest they help reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, including heart diseases, some forms of cancer and diabetes. The research also notes however that there was no benefit to anti-oxidant supplements.

The popularity of juicing, as seen in the massive commercial success of blenders and juicers was argued to be somewhat counterproductive, depending on if the pulp was also eaten. The issue with juicing is that it concentrates a larger number of calories, so it is very easy to unwittingly have a large amount of calories while believing that you have picked a healthy option, something made far worse if the pulp is removed.

The trend towards gluten free diets was also explored, and it was concluded that while they had significant benefits for people suffering from a gluten intolerance, the researchers concluded that the mooted health benefits of a gluten-free diet for non-sufferers was unsubstantiated.

Finally, the researchers noted various diets that were of medically proven benefit, including the Mediterranean diet. Of these, vegan and vegetarian diets that relied on leafy greens and plant based sources of protein were shown to have significant health benefits.

There are limitations to the study and it is best taken as an educated opinion piece rather than an empirical study. However, while the advice is plausible, this is not a systematic review and it is subject to issues of confounding factors. All this aside, the advice is the same: a healthy balanced diet is the best way to maintain your health and weight.