The Four Diets Backed by Science

06 September, 2020
There are so many diets that go in and out of style. However, not all of them are actually healthy. So, what are the diets backed by science? What does the evidence have to say? Today, we'll reveal for options.

Today, we have an endless list of diet options available for us at our fingertips. Most of them either exclude or venerate certain types of foods. But… are the claims about their benefits actually true? And what does the evidence actually have to say? What are the diets backed by science?

It’s true that a large part of our population has gone on a specific kind of diet at some time or another. Especially fad diets. What’s more, we often do so without properly consulting with a nutrition expert beforehand.

However, there are certain nutrition models that, given their composition, seem to have overall benefits. Which are they and why do specialists recommend them? In the article below, we’ll answer this question.

4 diets backed by science

A healthy diet isn’t one that simply helps you to lose weight. If we talk about overall well-being, it’s important to know that a diet needs to be varied and complete from a nutritional point of view. Below, we’ll describe four different diets backed by science.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the nutritional patterns with the most scientific evidence regarding its health benefits. That’s because it plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of a variety of pathologies. The Mediterranean diet:

  • Prioritizes an abundant intake of plant-based foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, wholegrain cereals, and nuts.
  • Recommends the daily intake of dairy products like yogurts and cheeses.
  • Emphasizes the use of olive oil as the main source of fat.
  • Recommends an abundant intake of water and natural drinks, such as teas.
  • Suggests a moderate consumption of unprocessed red meats, fish, and eggs. At the same time, it warns against eating processed meats.
  • Limits or avoids industrialized foods.

Following this diet significantly improves health. In particular, it seems to help fight against problems associated with chronic inflammation. Among these, we can name the following:

The Mediterranean diet.
There is extensive evidence to suggest that the Mediterranean diet contributes to preventing illnesses associated with inflammation.

Also read The Influence of the Mediterranean Diet on Intestinal Health

The DASH Diet

Another one of the diets backed by science is the DASH diet–Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet consists of recommendations indicated by the American Heart Association (AHA). As you can guess, the objective of the DASH diet is to reduce arterial pressure and prevent cardiovascular illness.

In general, the guidelines consist of the following:

  • Abundant intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Reduced consumption of sodium and red meats.
  • Little to no intake of processed foods, including sugars, salt, and refined flours.

This diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, but also different. The Mediterranean diet prioritizes an increased intake of monosaturated fats (olive oil and nuts) and doesn’t emphasize the intake of low-fat dairy products.

Some studies suggest that this dietary model also offers other health benefits as well. For example, bone metabolism and urinary homeostasis.

The Atlantic diet

The Atlantic diet is typical in countries around the Atlantic ocean. Just like its “sister”, the Mediterranean diet, it favors the prevention of cardiac disease. It consists of the following:

  • Fish and seafood are the main ingredients in this diet
  • Abundant intake of vegetables and greens
  • Consuming grains, legumes, and potatoes as the main source of carbohydrates
  • Moderate consumption of red meats.
  • The use of olive oil as the main source of fat, especially as a dressing.
The Atlantic diet.
The Atlantic diet shares some characteristics with the Mediterranean diet. Therefore, it’s also associated with the prevention of cardiovascular illness.

Read also: Tuna Fillet Burgers: A Healthy Recipe

The low-FODMAP diet

The acronym FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols”. And the low-FODMAP diet consists mainly of the exclusion of foods with these characteristics.

Often, it’s used to accompany the treatment of gastrointestinal pathologies, such as intestinal inflammation. It’s a common recommendation for these periods when the symptoms of these pathologies are present.

The foods you should avoid until symptoms improve are the following:

  • Legumes, like garbanzos, lentils, and soy
  • Grains, like wheat, barley, rye, and amaranth, and their derivatives
  • Whole dairy products
  • Certain sweeteners, honey, and high fructose corn syrup
  • Soy drinks, industrialized juices, rum, and white wine
  • Garlic, onion, corn, and other vegetables
  • Canned fruits, plums, pears, watermelon, and others

Among the foods that this diet permits are the following:

  • Corn starch, oats, rice, corn, millet, sorghum, and quinoa.
  • Sugar, sweeteners that don’t end in “-ol”.
  • Tofu.
  • Tomato, carrots, zucchini, chard, and other vegetables.
  • Melon, orange, cantaloupe, grapefruit, and other fruits.
  • Lactose free milk, goat cheese.
  • Oils, like olive oil and canola oil.
The low-fodmap diet.
The low-FODMAP diet is helpful in treating intestinal pathologies. In particular, excluding these foods contributes to improved symptoms.

Diets backed by science: What you need to know?

All of the above diets offer benefits backed by science. However, your diet should always be nutritionally balanced in order to avoid problems associated with possible deficiencies or excesses. Therefore, you should always talk to a nutritionist in order to know what diet plan is best for you.

Las 4 dietas recomendadas por la ciencia

  • Skerrett PJ, Willett WC. Essentials of healthy eating: a guide. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2010;55(6):492-501. doi:10.1016/j.jmwh.2010.06.019
  • Urquiaga, I, Echeverría, G, Dussaillant, C, & Rigotti, Attilio. (2017). Origen, componentes y posibles mecanismos de acción de la dieta mediterránea. Revista médica de Chile145(1), 85-95.
  • Di Daniele N, Noce A, Vidiri MF, et al. Impact of Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome, cancer and longevity. Oncotarget. 2017;8(5):8947-8979. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.13553
  • Gardener H, Caunca MR. Mediterranean Diet in Preventing Neurodegenerative Diseases. Curr Nutr Rep. 2018;7(1):10-20. doi:10.1007/s13668-018-0222-5
  • del Corazón, F. E. (2016). Dieta atlántica: otra opción cardiosaludable. Fundación Española del Corazón.
  • Canicoba, M., & Nastasi, V. (2016). La dieta reducida en FODMAP: ventajas y controversias. Nutrición clínica en medicina10(1), 20-39.
  • Doyle L, Cashman KD. The DASH diet may have beneficial effects on bone health. Nutr Rev. 2004;62(5):215-220. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2004.tb00043.x
  • Valentino, G, Tagle, R, & Acevedo, M. (2014). Dieta DASH y menopausia: Más allá de los beneficios en hipertensión arterial. Revista chilena de cardiología33(3), 215-222.
  • Leis Trabazo R, de Lamas Pérez C, Castro Pérez X, Solla P. Dieta atlántica. Nutrición y gastronomía en Galicia [Atlantic diet. Nutrition and gastronomy in Galicia]. Nutr Hosp. 2019;36(Spec No1):7-13. doi:10.20960/nh.02686
  • Marum, A, Moreira, C, Carus, P, Saraiva, F, & Sousa-Guerreiro, C. (2017). A low fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols (FODMAP) diet is a balanced therapy for fibromyalgia with nutritional and symptomatic benefits. Nutrición Hospitalaria34(3), 667-674.
  • Magge S, Lembo A. Low-FODMAP Diet for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2012;8(11):739-745.