When it comes to diets, there is abundant information about the proposed benefits each may offer. Navigating this information can often be tricky and time-consuming, making it difficult to know whether to adopt a specific diet and for what purpose. Nourishing our bodies with healthy, whole foods can help with everything from weight loss to improved mood and can help manage conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes and contribute to better heart health. We’ve broken down some ways diets can be beneficial, and which can help for specific purposes.
Vegan diets can help with weight loss
There’s no question that maintaining a healthy weight is good for you. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of numerous health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, mental illness, and cancer. Research shows that vegetarian diets that allow dairy products and eggs and vegan diets can help you lose weight in the short-term. Vegan diets, and vegetarian diets paired with lower caloric intake produce the greatest weight loss.
A healthy diet can impact mood
Given the benefits of adopting a healthy diet on physical health—such as weight loss, avoiding weight gain, and reducing the risk of chronic disease—and emerging evidence around potential benefits to mental well-being, paying attention to our diet is a good practice.
Certain diets can benefit heart health
Heart disease is an umbrella term for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels. These diseases most often result from the narrowing and blockage of arteries by plaque deposits, and this is often caused by high cholesterol. Luckily, healthy lifestyle choices—like diet modifications—are a good way to combat heart disease. In combination with a National Cholesterol Education Program Step II diet, the Portfolio diet can reduce “bad cholesterol,” and other types of fat found in the blood, as well as reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and of developing coronary heart disease within the next ten years.
Modifying diet can help manage blood pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, increases the risk of developing many diseases and can lead to early death. Plant-based diets that contain limited animal products, such as the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH), the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, the healthy Nordic diet, and the Mediterranean diet, may help to reduce one or more aspects of blood pressure.
Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is an essential part of healthy aging. Before making any dietary changes, it’s a good idea to discuss your diet plan with a healthcare professional (for example, your primary-care provider or dietician), particularly if you have a chronic disease or other medical condition that can be affected by your diet. Read our resources below to learn more about diets and how they impact your health.