Have a New Year’s resolution to eat better in the coming year? We set out to find out what a healthy diet really looks like. Turns out, they all have a few things in common.
These diets were designed to prevent chronic and degenerative diseases. They all claim to lead you to a healthier life rather than promising weight loss. When we stacked them up side by side, we found that they mostly say the same thing: Cut out processed foods, industrial chemicals, and added sugar. Load up on fresh, organic vegetables and fruit.
Every one of these diets specifically calls for dark, leafy greens like kale. Their differences mostly center on ideal percentages of lean meats and whole-grain carbs.
The idea: Concern for animals and environment as well as physical health.
How to do it: Eat plant-based foods that do not involve animals.
What to eat: Beans, tofu, peanuts, quinoa, kale.
FACT: A “superfood” has been defined as a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food high in phytochemicals, which are found in its coloring. So most are brightly colored. Think kale, blueberries, and beets.
2. Traditional Asian
The idea: Studies show that Asians live longer with less degenerative disease.
How to do it: Meats in moderation, no dairy.
What to eat: Oily fish, miso, fresh and fermented vegetables, seaweed.
3. National Institutes of Health (TLC) Diet
The idea: Cut high cholesterol for a healthy heart.
How to do it: Very low saturated fat and high soluble fiber.
What to eat: Skinless poultry, low-fat dairy, kale, apples, oats.
The idea: Preserves vitamins and immune-boosting enzymes.
How to do it: Eat 80 percent organic plants never heated above 115 degrees.
What to eat: Apples, beets, kale, almonds, raw-milk cheeses.
FACT: Orthorexia is an eating disorder characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy.
5. Mediterranean Diet
The idea: Decrease the risk of heart disease.
How to do it: Limit meat, added sugar, and saturated fats. Get 50 percent of calories from carbs.
What to eat: Fish, whole grain bread, kale, tomatoes, olive oil.
6. Ancestral Diet
The idea: Switch from carb burning to fat burning.
How to do it: Choose nutrient-dense calories: no grains, no added sugars, and no processed foods.
What to eat: Grass-fed meat, kale, fermented foods, avocados, coconut oil.
FACT: Our bodies are constantly reacting to what we eat to achieve a blood pH of 7.34 to 7.45, which is slightly alkaline. Help your body out by eating alkaline-forming foods like broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, almonds, avocados, and melons.
7. Glycemic Index Diet
The idea: Control blood sugar to cut risk of diabetes.
How to do it: No added sugar. Swap good carbs for bad carbs.
What to eat: Lean meat, whole-grain bread, kale, carrots, cabbage.
FACT: According to the USDA, lean meat is any serving of meat (3 ounces—about the size of a deck of cards) with less than 10 grams total fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, and 95 milligrams cholesterol.
The idea: Chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer are linked to inflammation.
How to do it: Limit processed foods and aim for 30 percent fats heavy in Omega 3s.
What to eat: Wild salmon, kale, olive oil, yogurt, avocados.
FACT: Microgreens generally have higher concentrations of healthful vitamins and carotenoids than their mature counterparts. The plants use up some nutrients as they grow.