With so many diets out there, have you ever wondered which diet is best? According to research by Michael L. Dansinger, MD, of Tufts University New England Medical Center in Boston, four popular diets all appear to lower the risk of heart disease equally. Dansinger set out to determine the best diet by looking at Weight Watchers, the high-fat Atkins diet, the low-fat Ornish diet and the high-protein/moderate-carbohydrate Zone diet. Dansinger presented his results about the best diet, at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2003.
The study’s goal was to test the effectiveness of the four popular diet approaches as indicated by changes in weight and 10-year heart disease risk. Participants were randomly assigned one of the approaches and attended four group classes during the initial 2-month study period. (All classes were taught by the same doctor and dietitian.) After 2 months, 22 percent of the dieters had given up. Those who had not were given the option of continuing on their weight loss method.
Participants who stayed on their prescribed diets for a year lost an average of 10 to 12 pounds, or 5 to 15 percent of their body fat. All diets affected cholesterol levels, but differently. The best diet for lowering the bad LDL cholesterol was the Ornish diet (low-fat vegetarian) while other diets were better at raising the good HDL cholesterol.