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6 Key Characteristics the Healthiest Diets Have in Common

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Proper diet is necessary to lose weight and overall health. There are hundreds of diets circulating and promising magical results, optimal health, and all other things you want to hear. It seems like there’s a new diet fad every month and the internet, particularly Instagram, is flooded with all photos and hashtags posted by millions of people who’re trying the new craze. Although most diets seem promising, they rarely are successful. In fact, a vast majority of them have a tremendous potential to jeopardize your health. Exceptions always exist, of course, and this article is dedicated to them. Here, you’ll find out the key characteristics that all healthy (and successful) diets have.

What do healthiest diets have in common?

Although all diets have a broad range of differences, they have some similarities as well. In fact, the healthiest eating patterns share the following six characteristics.

1. They’re low in sugar

Added sugar poses as the worst ingredient in your diet. It’s not present in candies and sweets only; it can be found in a wide array of products. According to a review of studies published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, eating too much sugar overloads the liver which is forced to turn it into fat. Furthermore, high dietary intake of added sugar poses as a significant causative factor of metabolic syndrome and rapid weight gain.

Healthiest diets and nutrition plans that improve overall health or help you lose weight are low in sugar, they promote avoidance or limited consumption of this ingredient.

2. They eliminate refined carbs

Refined Carbs

When it comes to healthy eating plans, everything that’s heavily processed or refined isn’t good, and carbs aren’t the exception. Refined carbs are usually grains whose beneficial parts have been removed. The prime example of this ingredient is refined wheat flour, which is highly prevalent in the Western diet. Without fiber that grains provide, starch causes an increase in blood sugar levels, thus leading to cravings and overeating and accelerated weight gain, according to a study published in the Pediatrics.

Even though some diets go so far to ban all grains, healthy ones make a clear distinction between whole grains that offer multiple health benefits and refined or heavily processed counterparts.

3. They are against consumption of artificial trans fats

Okay, you already know that trans fats are unhealthy. They increase inflammation and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, according to research published in the Journal of Nutrition. It’s needless to mention they can make you gain weight quite fast. Trans fats are harmful, have zero nutritional value, and it comes as no surprise why healthy diets avoid them.

4. They promote high intake of vegetables and fiber

Most diets nowadays are too limiting and exclude all sorts of foods. Some of them eliminate grains, others animal-based products, and so on but one thing that all diets include is vegetables or fruits. Have you ever read guidelines of some diet and it advised you shouldn’t eat vegetables? Of course, you didn’t! It’s because multiple studies have confirmed that produces is linked to a variety of health benefits and decreased the risk of various diseases. For instance, the BMJ published a study which showed that a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables lowers risk of all-cause mortality, especially cardiovascular mortality. Let’s not forget the fact that vegetables and fruits are loaded with fiber which is essential for digestion and weight loss. Fiber acts as appetite suppressant thus making you eat less.

5. They don’t include industrial vegetable oils

Vegetable Oils
Industrial vegetable oils are widely used, but they aren’t quite healthy. They are high in Omega 6 fatty acids, and although they’re essential for us in healthy amounts, excessive consumption is bad news for our health. For instance, Biochimica et Biophysica Actapublished a study which showed that linoleic acid (the primary type of Omega 6 fatty acid in vegetable oils) gets implemented into fat cells in one’s body.

There’s, also, growing body of evidence showing industrial vegetable oils are bad for cardiovascular health, have the potential to increase the risk of cancer, and so on. All healthy diets teach you to differentiate good and bad fats, promote intake of healthy fats and suggest you should limit or avoid eating bad fats.

6. They focus on healthy foods, not calories

Perhaps the most interesting thing that all fruitful and healthy diets have in common is that they don’t force you to count calories. These dietary patterns don’t focus on calories but emphasize the importance of well-balanced menu and healthy foods. They teach you to enjoy and savor every bite.

Healthiest diets also focus on:

  • Smaller portions
  • Fresh foods
  • Eating seasonally
  • Eating locally

What are the healthiest diets?

Now that you know what do healthiest diets have in common, you’re probably wondering what they are. It’s important to mention they don’t focus on weight loss only, but your overall health. They aren’t diet fads or programs you should follow for a month and then give up. Instead, they promote healthy eating at all times. Below, you can see the examples of the most beneficial diets today.

Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean diet

It poses as the healthiest diet in the world, even doctors recommend it. The diet emphasizes consumption of local produce, seasonality, and traditional preparations.

Key foods: olive oil, fruits, vegetables, seafood, legumes, nuts, poultry, red meat (once a week)
Science: Multiple studies have been conducted to investigate benefits of this diet. For example, the American Journal of Medicine published results of the survey which found that MetDiet is the best diet for long-term weight loss.

New Nordic diet

The diet was created in 2004 and made to contain 35% less meat than the average Danish diet, more whole grains, and produce.

Key foods: local fruits and berries, cruciferous and root vegetables, rapeseed oil

Science: Although very “young” diet, there are still a lot of studies that confirmed its benefits. The American Society for Nutrition published results of the study showing that New Nordic diet led to weight loss and blood pressure reduction in obese participants.

Okinawan Diet

Traditional Okinawan diet

It’s a low-calorie and nutrient-dense diet that promotes high intake of fruits and vegetables.

Key foods: rice, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, soybean-based foods

Science: the Mechanisms of Ageing and Development published a paper which stated that the Okinawan diet has a potential to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as to modulate aging-related biological pathways. The diet promotes longevity and healthy aging.

Conclusion

Healthy diets are well-balanced and don’t limit intake of some (healthy) food groups, but advise you to limit or avoid eating foods that have no nutritional value. Instead, they promote consumption of various foods because they deliver different nutrients that help us lose weight and fend off various diseases.

References

  • http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/103/3/e26.short
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15735094
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/healthiest-diets-world_us_57cc716fe4b0a22de0966ff2
  • http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mediterranean-diet-beats-low-fat-diet-for-long-term-weight-loss
  • http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/99/1/35.long