With every passing day, new diets keep coming out, with each one promising greater results in a short period of time.
Unfortunately, a lot of these diets are baseless and can actually be detrimental to one’s health. That being said, a few of them are quite effective and they also have quite a few things in common. Be it the Mediterranean diet, a plant-based diet, or even the alkaline diet.
By examining the similarities shared amongst the world’s most successful and popular diets, one can then make informed decisions about their healthy eating habits.
Similarities amongst successful diets
1. They make sure to include lots of vegetables
There’s a reason why the consumption of vegetables has been emphasized since early childhood.
Like fruits, vegetables are an incredibly rich source of phytonutrients. These are plant-based antioxidants that help to encourage and maintain general health and well-being. Their antioxidant content helps to fight against free radicals, which then leads to a lower risk of chronic diseases (1).
Aside from their antioxidant content, vegetables are also a great source of fiber. A lot of effective diets place an emphasis on fiber and for good reason. Fiber not only encourages long-term satiety, but also encourages improved digestive, heart, and gut health. Firstly, heart disease is the number one cause of mortality worldwide. Secondly, as studies continue to show, the health of our gut can greatly influence our general well-being. Therefore, it’s no wonder that so many effective diets make sure to care for it.
2. They avoid added sugars
Sugar may give us energy, but if it’s not natural, healthy diets try to stay clear of it.
The recommended daily dietary intake for sugar is a maximum of 10 teaspoons a day, yet a lot of us regularly consume more than this, due to the added sugars in processed foods. This then leads to health complications such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
This is why a lot of these healthy diets suggest that you cut back on added sugars.
3. They avoid refined grains
While the consumption of grains is advisable, refined grains are a form of grain healthy diets to make sure to avoid.
Unlike whole grains, refined grains are processed grains that have had their bran and fibre removed. In doing so, refined grains are then left with no essential nutrients but only starch and glucose. The most popular refined grain used is wheat flour. This type of flour is a key ingredient in a number of baked and processed goods.
Because refined grains are void of any fibre, they actually cause rapid spikes in blood sugar when consumed. This then causes cravings, which of course may lead to over-eating. This is why you often found yourself still hungry after having a few bites of a chocolate cookie. In fact, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Atherosclerosis Reports, refined grains have been linked to metabolic diseases such as obesity, Type II diabetes, and heart disease.
If you’re looking to effectively cut back on both your sugar and refined grains intake – simply avoid anything that comes in a box.
4. They also avoid unhealthy fats
As of June of last year, the FDA officially banned the use of trans fats in food manufacturing. Unfortunately, products that have already been manufactured with the ingredients can still be distributed until January 2020 (2).
When it comes to fats, healthy diets only encourage the consumption of healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, olive oil, avocados, and salmon. These fats are called polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and they have been linked to a number of health benefits, including longevity and a reduced risk of some cancers.
The verdict on saturated fats is still out for some, yet there is a consensus among diets that trans fats are a big no-no. Trans fats are hydrogenated vegetable oils that are created for the purpose of lengthening the shelf life of processed goods. Unfortunately, their effect on human health has been so severe that they’ve actually been banned from a few countries.
Due to their highly-inflammatory effects on the body, trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and, as we know, heart health is a number one priority for any healthy diet (3).
They emphasize whole foods
As we’ve seen, a lot of the ingredients that healthy diets avoid can be found in processed foods. These foods contain high levels of fat, sugar, and sodium – all of which can greatly increase the risk for chronic diseases.
Diets such as the Mediterranean diet and Paleo diet are popular and effective because they stress the importance of whole foods. Whole foods are free of any potentially problematic ingredients whilst also rich in antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals.
The bottom line
Unfortunately, a lot of the diets out there can do more harm than good when it comes to your health and well-being. Thankfully, there are successful diets that exist. That being said, there’s no need for you to focus solely on one diet. By picking up on the shared principles among all these healthy diets, you can create your own eating plan that’ll improve and protect your health.