Go Nuts for the Best Diet


What is the best diet for weight loss? What is the best diet for heart health? Many heart patients are obese and are looking for a good diet to lose weight. Certainly all heart patients would like to follow a diet that would help reduce their risk for further heart problems. What is the data on diets?

There are many different commercial diets available, all of which tout their ability to help people lose weight. There are, however, far fewer rigorous scientific trials studying the various diets. In an ideal world, the best way to evaluate diets is to study one diet compared to another diet, however this is rarely done. Most diet studies compare patients on a diet to patients not on a diet. In a 2015 review in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the data on 11 weight loss programs was systemically reviewed. The 11 programs were: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Health Management Resources (HMR), Medifast, OPTIFAST, Atkins, The Biggest Loser club, eDiets, Lose It! and SlimFast. There were only 39 randomized, controlled trials available in the medical literature for review and even those had significant shortcomings such as limited duration, high rates of dropout and poor adherence to the diet programs. It was felt that only two programs, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, were able to show weight loss at one year, and their results were only modest at best. Another recent review in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that all diets produced weight loss at six months and one year compared to no diet at all. Weight loss at six months was greater than at one year, with wide variations (from 22 pounds with Atkins diet to 14 pounds for Jenny Craig). At one year, the variations were minor (from 14 pounds with Jenny Craig to 13 pounds for Weight Watchers). Lastly, the US News and World Report came out with their take on the best diets (http://health.usnews.com/best-diet). They did not use the scientific literature, but based their rankings on a panel of “nationally recognized experts in diet, nutrition and food psychology.” This method is less rigorous and more prone to opinion and bias. Still, they concurred with the medical literature review ranking Weight Watchers number one and Jenny Craig number three for weight loss.

On the other hand, several diets specifically geared toward heart disease have a solid body of data. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy products, while low in saturated and total fat content. The DASH diet has been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Interestingly, US News and World Report ranked the DASH diet as their number one over-all diet for 2015 - the fifth year in a row it has been number one.

Sign Up for E-News

The Mediterranean diet (http://dietamediterranea.com/en/nutrition/) has become the standard for heart healthy eating, showing reduction in heart disease, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and lowering the risk for cardiovascular death. It is a plant-based diet with high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, whole grains, moderate intake of fish, poultry and wine and low consumption of red meat and sweets. The Mediterranean diet has not been around for very long. It was first described in the 1950’s in Southern Europe and it is actually a result of post-World War II impoverishment and food restrictions. Despite being born from poverty it is rich in benefits. It has been studied in primary prevention (preventing patients who do not have heart disease from having a heart attack or stroke) and in secondary prevention (preventing patients who have had heart disease from having another event). It has been studied in over 100,000 patients. In people who do not have disease, those who follow a Mediterranean diet have a 47 percent lower risk for developing heart disease. In patients who have had a heart attack, those on the diet lowered their risk of dying from heart disease by 50-70 percent. The Mediterranean diet isn’t just a diet, but a way of life. In addition to the food content, it is emphasized that the food be savored, that meals be shared with friends and family and daily physical activity be a part of the lifestyle.

Nuts - specifically tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts - are an integral component of the Mediterranean diet and are high in unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals. A recent study of nuts showed that nut consumption of 30 grams (about a handful) per day several times per week decreased the chance of dying from heart disease and cancer. It also lowered the risk for diabetes, obesity, hypertension and inflammatory disease.

So the clear winners are the Mediterranean diet for best overall heart health and the DASH diet for hypertension. Both of these diets are well supported by data and recommendations from the American College of Cardiology. Unfortunately, there is no clear winner for the best diet for weight loss as the data is not as strong. To find out which weight loss diet is right for you, you must first change the concept of a diet, something you go on and then come off. Instead of going on a diet, you should try to achieve a balanced lifestyle with food consumption that is livable and good for the long term. Therefore the likely answer for the best diet for weight loss is similar to, “What is the best exercise” (Answer, the exercise that you like to do and will stick with). So pick a diet that suits your tastes best and one that fits your lifestyle and budget. Once you have picked your diet and your exercise regimen, stay with it for the long haul. Just remember to reward yourself with a tasty treat. How about a handful of almonds?

Bridgewater resident Steve Georgeson is a cardiologist who works for Medicor Cardiology. Here, he writes about topics and events pertaining to cardiology

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Mon, July 16, 9:00 AM

The Wayrick Gallery, Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: NJ Audubon Photography Instructors’ ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

Mon, July 16, 9:00 AM

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Summer Nature Day Camps at Scherman ...

Education Green

Mon, July 16, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster,

2018 Members’ Non-Juried Exhibition & Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Somerville Woman Arrested for Shoplifting from Macy's, According to Bridgewater Police Report

July 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A Somerville woman was arrested for allegedly shoplifting more than $400 worth of merchandise from Macy's at the Bridgewater Commons Mall July 7, according to a report from Bridgewater Township Police.

Sara Morales-Silva, 51, was charged with shoplifting after she was found with about $435.04 worth of merchandise from the store.

She was processed and released pending a ...

Schedule Revised for Eric Murdock Basketball Camps in Bridgewater

July 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater's own Eric Murdock, a former NBA superstar, is holding basketball camps through the Bridgewater Recreation Department.

The dates and times of some of the sessions of the Eric Murdock Basketball Camps have been revised, and more information can be found at http://www.bridgewaternj.gov/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/Eric_Murdock_578.pdf.

Murdock was ...

Somerville: Gallery Hosts Photo Society's 90th Anniversary Exhibit

July 15, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Arts on Division is presenting “Visions of Raritan Photographic Society – A Celebration of 90 years” from Thursday, July 19 to Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018 at the Gallery on Division, 15B Division Street.

The Raritan Photographic Society, founded in 1929, is the oldest photography club in New Jersey. The exhibit celebrates the organization's 90 years ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

Take Action to Reduce Debt

In our last article, we broached the subject of debt and the township’s reliance – or over-reliance – on debt to fund our yearly expenditures for items such as roads. So, ok, we want to reduce our reliance on debt moving forward, especially as the cost of borrowing is rising. What’s the solution?

Well, there’s no magic wand we can wave to suddenly end ...

Is the Mediterranean Diet Still the Best for Heart Healthy Eating?

The Mediterranean diet has long been the standard for heart healthy eating.  It is a diet that emphasizes olive oil, fresh vegetables, nuts, whole grains over refined grains, fish and plant-based protein over red meat, herbs and spices to flavor food over salt, and fresh fruit for dessert instead of refined sweets. The US News and World Report even named the Mediterranean diet its ...

Celebrate Summer with Freedom & Responsibility

Parents and students rejoice!

School is out and everyone can now experience a great sense of freedom. Kids want to be outside enjoying summer weather and; although it’s the most wonderful season for non-academic activities involving swimming, traveling, and hiking to name a few, let us not forget that summer loss is a serious long-term result of not opening a book or writing for eight ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...