To reduce obesity rates, cardiovascular risk and chronic diseases, ditch calorie counting and instead emphasize the nutritional content of foods. That's the message from a group of British researchers in an editorial recently published in Open Heart.
Drawing on past scientific evidence, the authors argue that physicians, patients and society's focus on low-calorie foods and diets has resulted in a sacrifice of good nutrition and failed to improve overall public health. According to a press release:
Daily consumption of a sugary drink (150 calories) is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes whereas daily consumption of a handful of nuts (30 g of walnuts, 15 g of almonds and 15 g hazelnuts) or four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (around 500 calories) is associated with a significantly reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
It has been estimated that increasing nut consumption by two servings a week could stave off 90,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the US alone.
And the Action for Health in Diabetes trial shows that a low calorie diet on top of increased physical activity in patients with type 2 diabetes was not associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular death despite significant weight loss and a monitoring period of 13.5 years, [the authors] point out.
"It is time to stop counting calories, and time to instead promote good nutrition and dietary changes that can rapidly and substantially reduce cardiovascular mortality. The evidence indeed supports the mantra that 'food can be the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison'," they write.
Previously: The trouble with the current calorie-counting system, Homemade: Community-based project teaches how to cook for health and Cooked food, calorie counts and food labels
Photo by Mariya Chorna