Paleo vs Mediterranean vs Vegan – Which diet is best?

Paleo vs Mediterranean vs Vegan – Which diet is best?

Dieting is big business and every year a new and trendy diet seems to emerge. Three of the most popular diets of recent years are the Paleo Diet, Mediterranean Diet, and Vegan Diet. It can be difficult to know what we should be eating when there is so much conflicting evidence out there. So what do followers of these popular diets eat and what are the associated benefits and risks to their health?

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet or caveman diet first surfaced in the 1970s. It has gained significant momentum in the past few years and been embraced by many. The idea behind the diet is that we should be eating like our ancestors did, before farming and the subsequent shift in our diets to dairy, grains, and legumes.

Followers of the diet can eat organic grass-fed meat, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, and nuts, although the diet varies slightly depending on which version you follow. Fans of the diet love that it doesn’t involve calorie counting and instead focuses on nutritious whole food. Processed food is highly discouraged!

Unfortunately there haven’t been many studies conducted into the effects of the diet, but it seems to be effective for weight loss without leaving its followers hungry. The diet has also been found to be more satiating per calorie than a Mediterranean-like diet. Critics of the diet worry that it’s too restrictive and difficult to follow. They dislike that the diet excludes legumes and whole grains, which are important sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is based on the principal that people living in the region around the Mediterranean Sea have been found to have a lower risk of heart disease. The diet encourages variety and whole foods with an emphasis on plant-based foods. Again, processed foods are highly discouraged.

The diet encourages followers to eat large quantities of fruit, vegetables, and vegetarian proteins with smaller amounts of whole grains, meat, and dairy. The diet emphasizes the importance of consuming healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil and fish.

The diet has been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and reduced levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Additionally, followers of the diet find it easy to follow, as it doesn’t exclude any food groups. There aren’t many criticisms of the diet but as always, consult with your physician before making any major changes to your lifestyle or diet.

The Vegan Diet

People usually choose the Vegan Diet for health, environmental, and ethical reasons, or if they’ve read up on veganism on a site like Vegan Clue, but often find it has the added benefit of weight loss. Today it’s easier than ever to follow this diet as the food industry has created so many vegan-friendly alternatives to traditional grocery store staples.

Vegan Diet staples are fruits, veggies, legumes, whole-grains, nuts, and healthy plant oils. Vegans have to be more mindful of what they eat to ensure they receive all of the essential nutrients their body’s need to function correctly.

Vegan Diets are thought to be healthier for your heart. Research has shown that following a Vegan Diet may reduce your risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol. In studies, vegans are consistently shown to weigh less than meat eaters. Criticisms of the diet are that it can be difficult to receive all of the nutrients we need from plant-based foods. Vegans can develop nutrient deficiencies if they don’t carefully monitor and plan their diets.

As always, before embarking on a major lifestyle or dietary change, consult with your physician. SignatureMD doctors are experienced in preventing illness through healthy diets and lifestyle choices and will be able to assist you if you decide to change your diet.

The infographic can also be found on Visul.ly

Sources:
http://healthland.time.com/2014/01/07/the-paleo-diet-craze-whats-right-and-wrong-about-eating-like-a-caveman/ -The Paleo Diet Craze: What’s Right and Wrong About Eating Like a Caveman. Time Health and Family.

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