Does the PURE Diet Live Up to Name?

We’ve admitted in the past that we aren’t fans of diets. And we immediately distrust ones with “clickbait” names. Last week we wrote about the Always Hungry Solution Plan. We hated that name for how wordy it is and how much it promises. Today we’re looking at the PURE diet. It’s another diet whose name we dislike. There are connotations of morality and superiority. However, it stands for Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) scoring system and was developed by the Population Research Health Institute.

The PURE diet isn’t a weight loss plan. Instead, it’s designed to maximize heart health. According to the researchers who created the diet, eating six foods can help heart health. Their study found that people who ate all six foods were healthier than those who ate some healthy foods but not all on their list.

According to the team’s research, adding fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and whole-fat dairy to your diet can lower your heart disease risk. They made the diet recommendations after analyzing data collected from 245,000 people in 80 countries for more than nine years. Other studies have examined how diets impact cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. However, they focused on the Western diet. By working with data from 80 countries, the researchers got a much broader picture and could pinpoint the best foods.

This was by far the most diverse study of nutrition and health outcomes in the world and the only one with sufficient representation from high-, middle- and low-income countries,” said study author Dr. Andrew Mente, “The connection between the PURE diet and health outcomes was found in generally healthy people, patients with cardiovascular disease, patients with [blood sugar concerns] and across economies.”

People who ate foods from all six categories were 30 percent less likely to die during the study. They were 19 percent less likely to have a stroke, 18 percent less likely to develop CVD and 14 percent less likely to have a heart attack. The PURE diet tells people to eat two or three servings of fruits and vegetables, one serving of nuts and two servings of full-fat dairy daily. It recommends two to three servings of fish and three to four servings of legumes per week.

Older diet guidelines recommend against full-fat dairy. But PURE disagrees. The researchers also said that red meat can be consumed as part of a healthy diet if it’s unprocessed — meaning not products like bacon.

Low-fat foods have taken center stage with the public … with nutrition labels focused on reducing fat and saturated fat,” said Dr. Mente, “our results show that up to two servings a day of dairy, mainly whole-fat, can be included in a healthy diet.”

Dr. Mente believes dietary guidelines should be updated to follow PURE’s suggestions. Others disagree. Dr. Howard Sesso of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School said other heart-healthy diets still have merit. The DASH and Mediterranean diets are proven and popular.

Is PURE that much better? Maybe, maybe not. But not enough to dismiss other diets that are already the basis of recommendations in the U.S., Europe and worldwide,” said Dr. Sesso. “I do not believe guidelines should be changed based on this single study, but I welcome the scientific dialogue that should come out of any study that challenges what we think we know. People should follow the healthy dietary pattern that works best for them.”

Banner image: Towfiqu Barbhuiya Via Unsplash

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