What science says about the best way to eat
Eggs are good for you. Eggs are bad for you. Avoid red meat. Enjoy red meat in moderation. Butter is out. Butter is back. If your head is spinning, you’re not alone. According to a recent International Food Information Council Foundation survey, 80 percent of people feel confused about nutrition. Of course, headlines are partly to blame, but disinformation on social networks — along with food marketing — makes matters worse.
Yet despite the seemingly always changing nutrition landscape and turnabouts in opinion — and setting aside tribalistic views — there’s actually a lot of agreement in the nutrition world. In other words, these headline shifts are actually at odds with what we know. Here’s a look at where there is consensus, along with a look at some areas where even the scientists are still a bit unclear.
Emphasize plant foods
Research consistently shows that when you eat mostly plant foods, markers of health improve. Benefits include lower blood pressure, triglyceride levels, glucose and waist circumference, which can translate to a lower risk of a number of different diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.
An interesting, recent study looked at different patterns of plant-based eating, from a strict vegan diet to a more flexible semi-vegetarian approach to a non-vegetarian diet, examining how each dietary pattern impacts different predictors of health. What was notable about this study is it investigated a spectrum of plant-based eating styles. It turns out, a strict vegan diet produced the highest levels of healthy biomarkers and the lowest levels of unhealthy markers. Vegetarians who include eggs, dairy and/or fish scored next best. The non-vegetarian group had the least favorable health markers in their blood, urine and tissue samples.