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Different eating patterns

Learn the different eating patterns

Several eating patterns have been shown to reduce the risk factors associated with diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

However, there is still a lot of confusion about what a healthy diet is!

There are currently many food fads out there but there is very little evidence to show that they prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

We will highlight the main types of eating patterns that are very popular in different parts of the world. We will also examine the available evidence from research to show if they prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

These eating patterns are;

  1. The Nigerian eating pattern
  2. The Western eating pattern
  3. The Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension (DASH)
  4. The Mediterranean eating pattern
  5. The Vegetarian eating pattern
  6. The Paleo eating pattern
  7. The Keto eating pattern

The Nigerian eating pattern

This pattern differs across the different tribes and cultures in Nigeria. However, they have some basic things in common. They are rich in cooked green vegetables, unprocessed starchy carbohydrates, rich in unprocessed meats and fish,  rich in palm oil (saturated fats), and usually have a high salt content from bullion/stock cubes. The good sides of this diet are the unprocessed starchy carbohydrate, unprocessed meats, and vegetables. However, the downsides are the high amount of palm oil and salt. There is currently no evidence to show the benefits of this dietary pattern. However, there is evidence to show that saturated fats like palm oil are not good for health when compared to unsaturated fats.

The Western eating pattern

This pattern of diet is common in developed high-income countries. They are high in processed carbohydrates, low in vegetables, high in processed meat and fish, rich in sugar, rich in saturated fats and trans-fats, and also high in salt used mainly in preserving processed foods. This dietary pattern has been shown to be less healthy compared to the DASH diet, the Mediterranean, and a vegetarian diet. Processed carbohydrates, sugar, processed meat, trans-fats, and saturated fats promote inflammation.

The DASH eating pattern

It is a dietary pattern that encourages eating diets that are high in vegetables, fruits, lean and unprocessed meats, unprocessed whole grains, lean and unprocessed meat, fish, low dairy, nuts, legumes, and unsaturated fats. These foods are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The dietary pattern discourages sugar and saturated fats. Consistent research over the past 20 years shows that the DASH diet reduces blood pressure. It also reduces the onset of other diseases like type 2 diabetes. This dietary pattern suppresses inflammation.

The Mediterranean eating pattern

This diet became popular 50 years ago when researchers found out that people from the Mediterranean region of the world were less likely to have coronary heart disease (CHD). Since then, research has consistently shown the benefits of this eating pattern in protecting the heart. Like the DASH diet, this dietary pattern is high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed/whole grains, lean and unprocessed meat, fish, low-fat dairy, nuts, legumes, and unsaturated fats. It is also high in herbs, encourages minimal to moderate consumption of alcohol. It discourages the consumption of sweets and sugars, trans-fats, and saturated fats.  This dietary pattern also suppresses inflammation.

The Vegetarian eating pattern

This dietary pattern encourages the eating of plant-based foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts, tubers and roots, herbs, etc. This eating pattern highly discourages the eating of food products from animals such as meat, dairy, eggs, etc. However, some people who adopt the vegetarian diet may include dairy products like milk, fish, and seafood, and eggs but not meat. The vegetarian eating pattern also suppresses inflammation because it is high in unprocessed/whole grains, contains no meat, and is high in vegetables. It has been shown to also reduce the risk factors associated with diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

The Paleo eating pattern

This is a dietary pattern that mimics the way people used to eat in the far olden days before any form of food processing was discovered.  It encourages the consumption of animal products like meat. It also encourages vegetables and carbohydrates from tubers. However, it discourages the consumption of dairy products like milk. It also discourages the consumption of whole grains and legumes. Although this eating pattern is very popular and there are claims that it has health benefits, however, there is really no evidence to show that it is beneficial over a long period of time in protecting the heart and blood vessels. Research shows that it does not reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar to normal and beneficial levels. There are also concerns that a diet that prevents people from consuming dairy products like milk which is a major source of calcium has unhealthy effects on the body. This calls for more research on both the short-term and long-term effects of the Paleo eating pattern.

The Keto eating pattern

The ketogenic eating pattern is a low carbohydrate and high-fat eating diet. It discourages the consumption of foods that are high in carbohydrates and encourages foods that are high in fat. However, it is difficult to define what low carbohydrate really means. To some people, it means eating carbohydrates in low amounts while to some people it means not eating carbohydrates at all. This diet has been shown to be useful in reducing blood sugar levels, helping people with brain and nerve disorders, and some cancers.  There are concerns about the long-term effects of consuming high amounts of saturated fats over a long time as encouraged by the keto diet. For example,  it has also been shown to increase high blood cholesterol in some people. Generally, there is no evidence to demonstrate the long-term benefits of the ketogenic diet on the heart and blood vessels.

Moving forward

In conclusion, the only diets that have been shown to reduce inflammation, reduce blood pressure, prevent progression to type 2 diabetes, and protect the heart over a long period of time are the DASH, Mediterranean, and vegetarian eating patterns.

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