One of the most frustrating things about trying to lead a "healthy" lifestyle is the sheer number of conflicting definitions the word healthy can yield. Meanwhile, countless "experts" claiming to have the "secrets" we need to achieve our health and fitness goals lurk around every corner, all the while providing no real scientific basis to support their claims that their way is better than others'. With all of the conflicting messages, it's a wonder we're even able to pick out our lunch order on Seamless.
But, lucky for us, a new study published in the journal Annual Reviews attempts to make some sense out of this jumbled mess of competing information. Led by Dr. David Katz, a physician and researcher at the Prevention Research Center at Yale University, the study takes a long, hard look at today's most popular "healthy" diets, from Paleo to veganism to the Mediterranean diet. Perhaps to no one's surprise, Katz and his team found that, while each diet has its own strengths, no one diet was found to be objectively healthier than the rest.
The data did yield one overarching "rule," though: Diets with higher proportions of vegetables (those with approximately 50% of caloric intake from veggies) were generally found to be healthier — as long as they were high in whole, low-starch plants and fiber. However, vegan evangelists shouldn't claim victory just yet, as the researchers noted that people who follow restrictive diets like veganism often don't receive all of the nutrients they need.