It seems that regardless of what kind of health condition you’re trying to manage or prevent, a healthy diet is always central. Heart-healthy, joint health, vein health, cholesterol, and brain health can all be enhanced or ruined by eating.
For a lot of these conditions, you’ve heard the best way to eat is probably the Mediterranean or DASH diet. You may have explored ketogenic, low-carb, or vegetarian diets. But new research is saying that for health benefits, diets might not make the difference. So, if the idea of subscribing to a particular diet or following food rules doesn’t jam with you, you’re in luck. Intuitive eating might be for you.
Most diets come with macronutrient guidelines to help you reach a goal. Eat this many grams of protein, fat, or carbohydrates, and the benefits should unfold. More of this, less of that, you know the drill. But the new research is saying improved health comes down to eating more healthful foods, not macronutrients or nutritional exclusions.
Of course, if you are following a DASH or Mediterranean style diet correctly, you would be consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods. And really, the key to heart and general health is not necessarily a particular diet, but rather trying to eat four-to-six servings of fruit and vegetables per day, unprocessed meats, nuts, legumes, and other foods that have undergone minimal alteration before reaching your plate. The truth is that virtually every heart-healthy eating style is very similar. They promote balanced diets that are low in processed foods.
Stressing over whether or not something will fit into your diet isn’t worth the effort. Instead, look at what you’re about to eat and say, “Will this help me reach the health goal I’m trying to achieve?” If it’s an unprocessed food, purchased from the perimeter of the grocery store, you can almost always answer that with a yes.