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Diverse diet may not be best
August 26, 2018, 2:57 pm

Encouraging people to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure they meet all their dietary needs could also lead to people eating a greater variety of both healthy and unhealthy foods.

In an overview of recent scientific studies on diet, the American Heart Association contended that eating a variety of foods, which had been the mantra for good health among doctors worldwide, needed to be further clarified. The Association said that at the moment there was no general consensus of what constituted dietary diversity, on how it was measured and whether it is indeed a health dietary goal.

Following a thorough review of scientific literature published between January 2000 and December 2017, the Association concluded:

There is no evidence that greater overall dietary diversity promotes healthy weight or optimal eating.

There is some evidence that a wider variety of food options in a meal may delay people's feeling of satiation (fullness), increasing the amount of food they eat.

Limited evidence suggests that greater dietary diversity is associated with eating more calories, poor eating patterns and weight gain in adults.

Instead of telling people to eat a variety of foods, it would be better if dietary recommendations emphasize adequate consumption of plant foods, such as fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains, low-fat dairy products, non-tropical vegetable oils, nuts, poultry and fish, and limit consumption of red meat, sweets and sugary drinks, stated the Association.

"Selecting a range of healthy foods, which fits one's budget or taste, and sticking with them, is potentially better at helping people maintain a healthy weight than choosing a greater range of foods that may include less healthy items such as donuts, chips, fries and cheeseburgers, even in moderation," said a statement from the Association.

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