Home Heart Healthy Diet Eat this, not that: best and worst diets for overall health

Eat this, not that: best and worst diets for overall health

7 min read
Eat this, not that: best and worst diets for overall health

Everybody has a diet – the types of food someone typically eats – but when there is talk of going on a diet, it typically means putting some sort of restriction on the foods consumed.

There have been a number of popular diets through the years. Some promise quick results, some say guarantee health benefits beyond weight loss and some ask you to simply not eat. Here is a look at some popular diets right now.

According to whole30.com, the Whole 30 diet has been around since 2009. It has gained traction lately, though, by promising weight loss, increased injury and relief from aches and pains and some skin conditions.

The Whole 30 diet focuses on sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. In fact, it wants you to strip these things from your diet completely for 30 days, which will “change your tastes … your habits and your cravings … (and) restore a healthy emotional relationship with food and with your body,” according to the website.

What can you eat? Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, some fruit, and spices and seasonings are allowed on the diet, which calls for you to eat items with very few ingredients and no additives.

Here’s what’s off limits:

Added sugar, real or artificial.

Alcohol in any form, even for cooking.

Grains, including wheat, oats, corn and rice.

Legumes, such as all kinds of beans and peanuts.

Dairy, produced from any animal.

Baked goods like cookies, brownies, pancakes or tortillas.

A few things on the “No” list contradict what was thought to be healthy. Grains, beans and dairy are all part of a healthy diet according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Whole 30 says no way, though.


The U.S. News rankings of 40 diets based on factors such as relative ease to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease, ranked Whole 30 tied for worst.

U.S. News had issues with Whole 30’s lack of scientific support, its impact on diabetes and heart disease and long-term weight loss.

The vegan diet isn’t a commercial diet, it’s more of a way of life. Vegans often don’t choose this diet just for health benefits, but because of their belief animals are mistreated for food purposes.

The vegan diet is largely plant-based and the results often include weight loss and claims include an increase in energy.

What’s off limits:

Anything that is a result of an animal, including meat, fish or dairy. If an animal was used to produce it, vegans don’t eat it.

You might think this only means you can munch on plants, but there is more than just vegetables and fruits.

Check ingredient lists, but there are breads and pastas that are vegan, plus the internet is littered with copycat recipes that turn favorites into vegan options.

U.S. News ranked the vegan diet No. 19 in its list of 40 diets. The biggest knock against it is its difficulty to follow. Other than that, the diet is fairly healthy and will result in short-term and long-term weight loss, which will be beneficial in preventing diabetes and heart disease.

These two diets are separate from each other, but tied in the U.S. News rankings for best overall diets.

The DASH diet’s goal is to prevent and lowering high blood pressure. It does this by focusing on foods commonly thought to be healthy: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. It asks participants to limit foods high in saturated fat and high-sugar foods and drinks.

The Mediterranean diet is based off foods commonly eaten by people in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, who typically live longer and suffer from cancer and cardiovascular ailments less than Americans. The diet is low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and seafood, while also promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Neither diet makes wild proclamations or asks participants to do anything they haven’t been told before. Eat proper portion sizes of known-healthy foods and don’t be afraid to get out and move a little.

It’s not new science – eat good fats, don’t eat bad fats and exercise. It’s really that simple and not terribly difficult to follow.

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