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Decoding Popular Diets

September 2020

Decoding Popular Diets

These diets may be trending, but are they right for you? Only you and your healthcare provider can answer that question. Use the information below as a starting point for your conversations.


Gluten is a protein found in common grains—such as wheat, rye, and barley—that some people are intolerant of or sensitive to. Eliminating gluten is critical for those with celiac disease, whose intestines can be damaged by it. People with the less severe gluten intolerance should also avoid foods with gluten. For others, more research is needed on the benefits.


A plant-centric way of eating inspired by the habits of Mediterranean countries, this diet emphasizes minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, shellfish, and healthy fats. Numerous studies have shown its heart-healthy benefits.


This high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet puts the body into ketosis, which means it starts burning fat for energy. The ketogenic (keto) diet was created to help manage epilepsy and typically includes meats, butter, nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, and fish; it eliminates grains, most fruits, and starchy vegetables. While it may accelerate weight loss, it can be heavy on unhealthy, fatty, processed, and salty foods and tough to stick to.


The paleolithic diet includes foods available to our ancestors 10,000 years ago—think meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and berries, but not grains, dairy, sugar, salt, or legumes. It may help control blood sugar and prevent type 2 diabetes, but it can lead to unnecessarily excluding nutrient-rich foods.


This eco-friendly, plant-based diet includes anything that doesn’t come from animals: veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy, nuts, and seeds. It’s associated with lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. However, without careful planning, it can result in the deficiency of certain nutrients, such as vitamin B-12, vitamin D, and calcium. 


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