What’s the Best Diet for Good Health?

By: Cassidy Hobbs
Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
Johnston County Cooperative Extension

Keto, Paleo, Raw Food, Thrive, Herbalife, Low-carb, Low-fat- the list goes on and on. Diet trends leave consumers confused about what is healthy and starving for the next best diets once they give up the “trend.” These trendy diets aren’t always healthy, and often times, consumers gain more weight in the end than they lost while on the diet trend.

CNN and CBS News, in addition to many other media sources, released articles ranking diets for overall health, weight loss, and sustainability. The Mediterranean Diet is the number-one ranked diet on all lists (tied with the Dash Diet), and the currently popular Keto Diet ranked last. You may have seen handouts about the Mediterranean Diet in doctor’s offices, health departments, or any of the community blood pressure stations around the county. The Mediterranean Diet is very similar to the Dash Diet. Both encourage lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins.

The Dash Diet is a little lower in fat, but both diets encourage healthy, unsaturated fats and limit saturated fat and highly processed foods. There are no limitations on specific food groups with the Mediterranean Diet, as all food groups are essential for a healthy overall diet. The Keto Diet, however, puts extreme limitations on carbohydrates and encourages lots meat and animal fats. Unfortunately, the Keto Diet has been show to increase the risk of heart disease and potentially worsen the condition in some individuals.

On the other hand, the Mediterranean Diet is backed by many studies showing that the “Med Way” has numerous health benefits including decreasing the risk of some cancers, protecting against cognitive decline with up to a 40% risk reduction, improvement of eye health and reducing the risk of macular eye degeneration, managing blood pressure, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The Mediterranean Diet is more effective than low-fat diets for weight loss in overweight and obese individuals. The Mediterranean Diet aligns with recommendations by the American Heart Association, American Dietary Guidelines, and general guidelines by the American Diabetes Association.

The Mediterranean Diet is rooted in lifestyle changes rather than quick-fix trends that can’t be sustained for long periods of time. It may seem daunting at first, but making small changes one step at a time will put you on a road to good health. If you are interested in learning more, please visit www.medinsteadofmeds.com. This website contains the science behind the diet, videos, and recipes.

The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Johnston County Center will be hosting a six week series on the Mediterranean Diet. This cooking and nutrition series will begin at 5:45pm on September 10th at the Johnston County Agriculture Center. Registration is required and due with $40 registration fee by September 7th. Each week, we will discover steps to the Med Way, prepare new recipes, and taste test them all while building new relationships with other community members who value good health!

Visit www.johnston.ces.ncsu.edu for more information.