(P07-053-20) Common Elements of Two Popular Diets That Confer Health Benefits
Objectives: Many popular diets cite peer reviewed evidence of their effectiveness for disease reduction, yet point to very different reasons for their purported health benefits. The Atkins diet credits the low carbohydrate, high fat and moderate animal proteins as providing the benefit, while the Ornish diet credits the high carbohydrate, low fat, and low animal proteins. These diets seem to be at polar opposites in macronutrient recommendations but both claim benefits. Our hypothesis was that aside from the vastly differing macronutrient percentages, there are common elements in these diets that may be providing some of the benefits. Our research question was: Are there common elements in each diet and are they providing some of the purported health benefit?
Methods: The Atkins and Ornish dietary plans were compared to determine if there were similarities in dietary recommendations. A review of the literature was conducted regarding the potential health benefits of the common elements.
Results: Common elements within both the Aktins and Ornish dietary guidelines include: 1. Reduce consumption of low nutrient, low fiber foods that are typical of the Standard American diet, and increase consumption of whole foods 2. Reduce added sugar consumption and consume adequate fiber 3. Increase consumption of non-starchy, green leafy, cruciferous, and allium vegetables
A literature review of each of these three elements revealed a broad consensus on the health benefits. Frequent consumption of low nutrient, low fiber foods are associated with increased risk of many chronic diseases. Added sugar consumption has been shown to cause dental caries. Green leafy vegetables provide high levels of many nutrients necessary for good health including vitamin A and potassium. Cruciferous vegetables have been shown to increase phase 2 enzymes in the liver and are associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. Allium vegetables exhibit antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer properties.
Conclusions: These common elements could be used as a starting point for a healthy diet. Rather than focus on macronutrient percentages and sources, nutrition advice should focus on discouraging foods high in added sugars and low nutrients, low fiber foods and encouraging consumption of whole foods and non-starchy vegetables.
Funding Sources: Funding was not secured for this study.
Emeritus Professor Eastern Illinois University South Padre Island, Texas