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Improvement of diet does make you healthier, addition of juice, nuts and fish oil to a bad diet does not

If you want to eat healthier, then it makes more sense to change a bad diet in its in its entirety than just add some supplements and healthy foods to a bad diet. We are not telling you anything new. The fact that we are still annoying you this wisdom is due to the publication of a small yet insightful human study by health scientists at the university of Harvard in BMC Nutrition.


The researchers divided 30 overweight or obese Americans aged 40-65 into 3 groups. During the 8 weeks that the experiment lasted, the first group continued eating as the subjects were used to. [Control] Their diet was, ehm, not healthy on all points.

A second group switched to a Mediterranean diet under supervision. [Diet] "Meals included an abundance of plant food (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes), olive oil as the primary source of fat, fish, poultry, and eggs in moderate to low amounts; meats, saturated fats, and sweets, and consumption of two-ounce drinks per day or wine (or who eat alcohol)", describe the researchers describe.

A third group continued to eat as the subjects were accustomed to, but added supplements and some healthy foods to the dietary pattern. [Supplements] "The supplements included: (1) two 1-g pills or Omacor fish oil supplements (1.8 g or EPA / DHA) per day, (2) 1/3 cup shelled walnuts per day, and (3) 16 ounces (about 475 mL) Welch's 100% Concord grape juice per day."

The participants in the Supplement Group received the advice to monitor body weight frequently, and ditch regular foods when they noticed weight gain.

The subjects in the supplement group did not lose weight. Their cholesterol levels did not change either. In in the group that had adopted a Mediterranean diet things were different. Those study participants lost a few pounds, and in addition the concentration of the 'bad cholesterol' LDL dropped in this group.

Improvement of diet does make you healthier, addition of juice, nuts and fish oil to a bad diet does not

Improvement of diet does make you healthier, addition of juice, nuts and fish oil to a bad diet does not

"These results suggest that adopting a dietary pattern reflecting a Mediterranean diet improves weight and cardio-metabolic health and may be more beneficial than supplementing habitual American diets with fish oil, walnuts, and grape juice", write the researchers.

"Future research might focus on conducting larger trials of verbal and written counseling on the preparation and health benefits of a Mediterranean diet among a more diverse group of Americans, and also on the potential for supplementing with other key components of the Mediterranean diet (e.g., olive oil) on improving health in this population."

BMC Nutrition (2018) 4:26.

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Why big studies say supplements don't work 01.10.2011

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