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Healthy Eating- What is the best way forward?

When discussing healthy nutrition, you find many articles and recommendations from reliable and less trustworthy sources online and in publications. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans also recommend multiple healthy eating pathways. So, which one to follow?

A recently published prospective study with a final sample of 75 230 women and 44 085 men aged 53.3 years [9.6] examined the associations of following a specific dietary habit with long-term risk of total and cause-specific mortality. They found that participants who scored high on adherence (sticking to the dietary plan) to at least one of four healthy eating patterns were less likely to die during the study period from any cause and less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or respiratory disease, compared with people with lower scores. So it did not matter what diet the study participants followed. Deciding was how consequent they were.

The similarity between the diet quality scores and mortality was probably because all dietary patterns introduced in this study share several components, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. However, each dietary score has some distinct elements; for example, the AMED score encourages fish intake, but the HPDI discourages all animal foods.

Notably, two regimens — AMED and AHEI — were also associated with lower mortality from neurodegenerative disease (dementia), which may lie in the benefits of some dietary components, such as nuts and monounsaturated fat.

To sum up, there is not only one right way to health and well-being. Find your path and stick to it.

AMED has nine categories—vegetables, fruit and nuts, legumes, dairy, oils, cereals and grains, meats, and fish. Wine is often associated with the Mediterranean diet. It can be included but only in moderation. While alcohol may reduce the risk of heart disease, it has other health risks.

The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a tool developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Cancer Institute to evaluate the extent to which diets are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Possible index points range from 0-100, with a higher score indicating greater diet consistency with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

AHEI distinguishes between red meat and poultry/fish intake, giving a higher score to those who got their protein from the latter or plant sources.

HPDI: The “healthy plant-based diet index” measures higher adherence to healthy plant-based foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, tea, and coffee) and a lower intake of unhealthy plant-based foods (e.g., refined grains and high-sugar foods) and animal-based foods.

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