Science Compared Every Diet, and the Winner Is Real Food

March 26, 2014 Updated: March 26, 2014
Researchers asked if one diet could be crowned best in terms of health outcomes. If diet is a set of rigid principles, the answer is a decisive no. In terms of broader guidelines, it’s a decisive yes.

Dr. David Katz at Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, where he is a practicing physician and researcher, said it’s not that nutrition science is corrupt, just that the empty promises of memetic, of-the-moment diet crazes are themselves junk food.

Katz and Yale colleague Stephanie Meller published their findings in the current issue of the journal in a paper titled, “Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?” In it, they compare the major diets of the day. They conclude that no diet is clearly best, but there are common elements across eating patterns that are proven to be beneficial to health. “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”

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Katz, Meller/Annual Reviews

The ultimate point of this diet review, which is framed like a tournament, is that there is no winner.

“I think Bertrand Russell nailed it,” Katz told me, “when he said that the whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so sure, and wise people always have doubts. Something like that.”

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