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Michael Pollan is right

April 2, 2014

Michael Pollan is author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Two new studies confirm his famous quip: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” First, Dr. David Katz of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center was asked to compare the research on popular diets to determine which was the healthiest. The paper’s abstract summarizes:

A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention and is consistent with the salient components of seemingly distinct dietary approaches.

From the other side of the Atlantic, researchers at the University College London use data from the Health Surveys for England, to find that the more vegetables and fruit people ate daily, the lower their risk of death from heart disease and cancer. Vegetables provided more benefit than fruit, though I suspect that may be due to what fruits are popular. Interestingly, they found no benefit from consuming fruit juice or canned fruit.

Not long past, much of nutrition research focused on individual elements of diet (or seemed to?), allowing the food industry to create a lot of packaged junk food that was low in sugar or fat, or high in fiber, and largely absent in real food value. The nice thing about the current focus on whole foods is that it cuts that part of the food industry out of the loop. There is plenty of evidence that broccoli, onions, mushrooms, and peppers are good for you. (My shopping list for tonight’s dinner.) There is zero evidence for broccoli pills or onion-flavored processed foods.

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