A comparison of the Paleo, vegan, low-carb, and low-fat diets has resulted in an uncontroversial but meaningful consensus: Unprocessed foods are best, no matter what diet you follow, the Atlantic reported.
The research, which was conducted by Dr. David Katz and Dr. Stephanie Meller of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, was published in the medical journal Annual Reviews in a paper called "Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?"
Katz, Weller and their team reviewed the health and weight-loss benefits of several popular diets, including the Paleo diet, the vegan diet, the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and other combinations, including low-carb, low-fat, and low-glycemic plans.
Real Food Trumps Processed Junk
They concluded that no diet was clearly "the best" overall, but the common link among the best diets for longevity, weight loss, and preventing cancer, heart disease, and diabetes was a focus on unprocessed foods.
"A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature — predominantly plants — is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention," said Dr. Katz, author of Disease-Proof.
As it is, the extremes in the diet spectrum (i.e., the meat-heavy Paleo diet and the 100% plant-based vegan diet) both emphasize avoiding processed foods and eating lots of vegetables, so they actually have more in common than most people think.
Katz, a longtime proponent of vegetarian and vegan diets, is not a huge fan of the Paleo diet. But his research indicates that low-fat diets are not better at preventing heart disease or cancer than diets high in healthy fats, bolstering recent medical reports that unprocessed saturated fat is healthy.
Experiencing easy weight loss and improved health on a diet emphasizing vegetables and whole foods isn't surprising to obesity experts like Dr. Joel Fuhrman. “The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose,” said Fuhrman, author of The End of Dieting.