There have been a lot – a lot – of fad diets fading in and out of popularity over the last few years.
Thanks to the dubiously named "clean eating" trend, we've seen gluten and wheat pushed to the wayside, a rise in juices and dietary supplements and the eschewing of olive oil in favour of Instagram-friendly coconut oil.
But do we really know how good these dietary choices are for us? Researchers at the National Jewish Health hospital decided to take a look and see if they could get to the bottom of their impact on cardiovascular health.
"There is a great amount of misinformation about nutrition fads, including antioxidant pills, juicing and gluten-free diets", said Andrew Freeman, MD, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at the NJH. Freeman was also the lead author on the review, which has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Andrew and his team reviewed various nutrition studies to collate the evidence and found that, unsurprisingly, a "predominantly plant based diet that emphasises green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruit" offers the best improvements in heart health.
Here's what they found about the impact of so-called "fad" foods on our heart health.
Coconut Oil: Vegetable oils were dumped by bloggers in favour of coconut oil – because of claims that Freeman and co say are "unsubstantiated". In fact, Freeman says that "use of these oils [coconut oil and palm oil] should be discouraged."
Antioxidant Supplements: You can take these but they might not do you any good. Freeman and his team found that "current available evidence suggests that fruit and vegetables are the healthiest and most beneficial source of antioxidants" to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There is "no evidence" that the addition of antioxidant supplements will provide any benefit.
Juicing: It needs to be done in the right way. According to the review, "whole food consumption is preferred" and juicing should be primarily reserved for days when eating the recommended daily intake of fruit and veg isn't possible. Also, Freeman recommends that "guidance should be provided to maintain optimal overall calorific intake and to avoid the addition of sugars."
A Gluten-Free Diet: For people with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity, avoiding gluten is an important method of keeping healthy. For other people, though, Freeman concludes there is no point. "In patients without GRDs (gluten-related disorders), many of the claims for health benefits are unsubstantiated."