Diet trends of 2020: Health benefit claims vs. reality
There are many popular diet trends these days, and it can be difficult to decide what foods to eat. To help you weed through the information, UC Davis Health registered dietitian Melinda Gong discusses some of the most popular trends of the year.
Claim: Lose weight quickly while never feeling hungry.
Reality: This is a very high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. A recent study found that the keto diet did not have any long-term advantages on weight loss. The high-saturated fat foods that are mostly eaten while on the keto diet may raise bad cholesterol levels, which increases your chances of heart diseases. (Information from the Journal of Clinical Lipidology)
Pegan Diet – Paleo + Vegan = Pagan
Claim: Eat like a caveman for better health.
Reality: The pegan meal plan takes principles from paleo and vegan diets. The focus is eating mostly fruits and vegetables. The diet also includes lean meats, fish, eggs and nuts. The difficulty with this meal plan is how restrictive it is. People are not allowed to eat grains, dairy, legumes, sugar or salt, which could lead to certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies. It can also be difficult to maintain in the long run. The takeaway from this is to focus on eating less processed foods and more fruits and veggies every day.
Claim: Plant-based meats such as Impossible or Beyond Burgers are healthier.
Reality: These plant-based meats are not necessarily healthier than a lean ground sirloin or ground turkey breast, as they contain similar amounts of saturated fats and have a lot more sodium. If you want to eat less meat and more plants, consider choosing a healthier alternative like a bean burger that has been minimally processed. (Information from the American Medical Association)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Claim: Drinking apple cider vinegar will help lower blood sugar, cholesterol and help with weight loss.
Reality: Studies are still being done with apple cider vinegar. Some show that it may help with diabetes and cholesterol control, but the research is still questionable. There are also some harmful effects associated with apple cider, such as upset stomach or teeth enamel damage because of the vinegar’s acidity. Until more research is done, it may be better to use apple cider vinegar as part of your cooking or salad dressing.
Melinda Gong is a registered dietitian for UC Davis Health’s Health Management and Education Department. If you or your patient could benefit from one of their many free wellness and prevention classes and programs, please call 916-734-0718; visit the Living Healthy website, or register directly on MyUCDavisHealth.