Hundreds of diets all claim to be the best at weight loss, cardiovascular health, and other health benefits.
But which diet works the best?
A study just published in the journal BMJ has answered this question.
There were many candidates for this short-term gain, but only ONE winner for long-term weight loss and cardiovascular health benefit.
A large multinational team of researchers reviewed 121 studies with about 22,000 participants.
In these studies, the subjects were divided into a group that followed a diet and a group that continued to eat normally. They all compared these groups based on weight and cardiovascular health factors.
In general, the diets were divided into low-fat, low-carbohydrate, and moderate macronutrient diets.
The macronutrient diet contained more vegetables, fruits, and legumes than our current diet as well as less fat and carbohydrates.
The team also looked at various popular diets, like Atkins (keto type), Mediterranean, DASH, and Zone.
Within six months of commencing the diets, all participants showed slight weight reduction and improvement in cardiovascular health.
Regarding weight loss, low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets led to a loss of between four and five kilograms (or 8.8 and 11 pounds) over the six-month period.
Moderate macronutrient diets were less effective.
Low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets were also approximately equally effective at reducing both systolic (5 mmHg) and diastolic (3 mmHg) blood pressure by six months.
Moderate macronutrient diets were less effective here too.
Low-fat and moderate macronutrient diets were the best at reducing bad LDL cholesterol, and low-carbohydrate diets were the best at increasing good HDL cholesterol—but again, only at six months.
Atkins, DASH, and Zone were approximately equally effective at reducing weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol by six months.
By 12 months, however, the picture looked quite different. By then, the cardiovascular effects and weight loss benefits of all these diets but one had disappeared.
Only the Mediterranean diet maintained its positive effects on cardiovascular health by 12 months. The largest of these effects was on cholesterol reduction.
There are three things to learn from this study.
First, our normal diet is so unhealthy that any other diet can have positive effects—in the short term, at least.
Second, if weight loss is your priority, then Atkins, DASH, and Zone are your best bets in the short term. However, if heart health is more important—which it should be—then the Mediterranean diet is the only one that maintains its positive health effects in the long term.
Third, dieting alone is not a terribly effective weight loss tool, which is why it is better to combine it with other positive lifestyle changes, like regular exercise, stress reduction, and adequate sleep.
But if you want your cholesterol under control, you actually only have to cut out this ONE ingredient you didn’t even know you were consuming ….
And to drop your blood pressure below 120/80—starting today—do this simple exercise for 9 minutes ….