What is the World’s Healthiest Diet?

Monday Jun 15 | BY |
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Man Looking Inside Fridge Full Of Food And Choosing Apple

A few weeks ago, I promised to share my thoughts on what constitutes an “ideal diet. So here it is…

When I say “ideal,” I’m only going to talk about health.

I’m not going to consider how difficult this diet may be to follow, or how practical it may be. I’m not going to talk about the disadvantages of following a diet when it comes to social outings, the availability of foods where you live, or even taste.

Of course, not taking everything into account is an important part of the equation.

Our lives are about more than just food. Our lives are also about our social interactions, our stress levels, our level of happiness, and so on.

It makes sense to ask what the healthiest diet in the world is, and then come to our own conclusions about applying said diet.

What compromises are we willing to make, and what are the consequences of those compromises?

So, this is not an easy question to answer.

What is ideal? We want to know what diet will lead to the greatest level of health with the fewest chances of developing any disease, resulting in sustained energy, longevity and other positive outcomes.

In exposing this ideal diet, I’m not going to give you all of my reasonings because that would take up too much space. I have already written lots of other articles and there is plenty of documentation on this. Many people will disagree with my conclusions, but that leaves space for future debates.

What’s Included

The ideal diet is composed of the following categories of food as its basis:

  • Raw Fruits: Raw fruits are a great source of energy. They are low in toxins. They’re pretty much the ideal source of carbohydrates. Although some people speak out against fruit because of its sugar content, ultimately all carbohydrates are turned into simple sugars for energy production in the body. Fruit is simply a more sustainable, nourishing source of energy. It contains many, not just one, types of sugar combined with many different types of fiber, both soluble and insoluble (which means that the sugars in the fruit are absorbed at a slow rate). That’s why fruit is quite low on the glycemic index compared to other foods.Fruit is nourishing. Therefore, eating too much fruit can indeed make you fat because your body will burn the calories from fruit before burning anything else (including body fat). The same could be said of other forms of carbohydrates. As for dietary fat, it is stored directly as fat in the body. Eating more calories from any source can lead to excess weight, but if you prefer whole fruits instead of other calorie sources, it will be easy to maintain your weight, because fruit is relatively low in caloric density.

    Fruit is particularly healthy because of its antioxidants and because it is alkaline-forming. “Alkaline-forming” means that the minerals left over from digestion are primarily alkaline, like calcium, and they’re not acid-forming in the body. Most foods that are commonly consumed tend to be slightly or very acid-forming, but fruits and vegetables are an exception.
  • Green Leafy Vegetables: I put green leafy vegetables in a different category because they’ve got quite a different profile than other vegetables (especially starchy vegetables like potatoes and carrots). Green vegetables are a great source of so many vitamins and minerals, including calcium, and they prevent disease in general. They’re filling, nourishing, and very important to include in our diets.
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables: Low-sugar vegetables include things like zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes (yes, I know those are fruit but we will include them in this category for clarity’s sake), summer squash and other juicy or water-rich vegetables. Those vegetables are full of minor minerals and vitamins, and are also very alkaline-forming.
  • Starchy Vegetables: I rate starchy vegetables higher than grains or beans because they’re alkaline-forming. They’re also much easier to digest than grains and beans. As a source of energy, they’re absolutely outstanding. Some examples: white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Contrary to popular belief, those foods do not promote weight gain. It would be extremely difficult to eat too many white potatoes if one is not adding other calorie-rich condiments. (Of course, consuming more calories than you burn of anything can lead to weight gain)
  • Beans: They must be cooked, so therefore they’re slightly less ideal than the previously mentioned, mostly raw foods. Beans are very low on the glycemic index. They’re extremely rich in nutrients and an ideal source of protein and energy. All long-lived cultures in the world consume beans!
  • Nuts and Seeds: Because of their fat content, nuts and seeds were not the very first items on this list. However, they’re excellent for health as long as they’re limited to small quantities. All studies show that nuts and seeds are excellent for cardiovascular health and weight control, but they must be limited. I also include in this category avocado and other plant-based whole fats, like oils.
  • Whole Grains: I do include whole grains in the list of ideal foods because of their convenience. Ideally speaking, the best carbohydrate sources are fruits, starchy vegetables and beans. However, grains complete the list, even though they’re slightly acid-forming. Grains do not promote weight gain as long as they’re consumed according to your energy needs, but they can, when consumed in excess, contribute to weight gain because it is easy to consume a lot of refined grains, like white rice.Ideally, avoid refined grains. Like the carbohydrates in fruit, they’re burned off first as energy before any other sources, including your own body fat. That’s why eating more calories than you need from all carbohydrate sources can lead to weight gain or slow down your weight loss. That also goes for any other foods. Most cultures in the world eat some types of grains and all the studies show that whole grains are extremely healthy. However, their nutritional profile is not as ideal as the one of starchy vegetables and fruit.

Foods Not Included

I’m talking about strictly an ideal diet here. An ideal diet is a diet where we place no consideration on pleasure or social aspects, simply what is healthiest. Therefore, yes, my list of non-ideal foods will be pretty extensive, but we’ll talk about how to make sense of it all after.

  • Animal Foods: In my opinion, animal foods are not part of the ideal diet. I just don’t buy the arguments of those who criticize the vegetarian or vegan diet. The vegans who run into health problems usually make the same mistakes: eating refined foods, eating too much fat, not eating a whole-food diet, not supplementing with B12, not getting enough calories. Consuming something like 5% of total calories from animal foods will probably not lead to health problems. This percentage is much higher in Western countries.
  • Salt: Salt isn’t part of an ideal diet. The arguments for salt are not that compelling, when you consider that so many cultures in the world have lived very well without it (with blood pressures that leave Western doctors to gasp in astonishment and disbelief). When you include plenty of green vegetables in your diet and all of the foods that I’ve mention previously, you will get at least 300-600mg of sodium a day, occurring naturally. This could be the ideal level for human beings. It will take time to adapt, but it pays off in lower blood pressure and improved health overall.
  • Refined foods. The ideal diet is simple: it doesn’t include any refined oils. Oils have been extracted and are pure fat without any of the fiber and associated nutrients in the whole foods they come from. The ideal diet also doesn’t contain strong condiments like hot peppers that can disturb digestion.
  • Caffeine — The world functioned long before coffee was invented, as caffeine is not an essential nutrient. It’s a stimulant that ultimately robs you of energy.

Now that I’ve laid out the list of ideal foods and non-ideal foods, ultimately we have to decide what we want to do with it. I personally have the hardest time giving up salt and caffeine — and haven’t been able to do it completely yet. I’m willing to accept that I may never be able to give up those substances completely.

The same goes for making any other type of compromise.

We have to enjoy our diets, but also be aware of the health detriments and benefits. An ideal diet does not necessarily need any juices or smoothies or any blended foods, but those can improve assimilation in individuals that have difficulty digesting raw fruits and vegetables.

Finally, how raw should be the ideal diet? My answer nowadays is pretty simple. The ideal diet is as raw as possible, providing that it easily meets your energy needs.

Ultimately, in health results, there’s not that much difference between a raw food diet and a cooked food diet as long as you stick with the list of ideal foods. The raw food diet has the added benefit of ease of digestion and of being very low in caloric density, which makes it extremely easy compared with other diets to maintain weight.

I will expand on this article later. In the meantime, I welcome your comments.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

15 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. carolyn says:

    I agree with you. The diet you describe is how I try to eat. I am not there 100% yet but I keep striving for to hit that ideal.

  2. Deb says:

    I thought Kevin was recomending aztec sea salt.

  3. coco says:

    Aloha,
    ? You say this diet is about health and not other things like practicality yet you then say you include whole grains for convenience ? Also, I believe whole grains to be the same as seeds which you include in the healthy diet under a different name. I think this is quite confusing for the masses.
    I would also like to mention that I believe seeds are by design there to be planted and not eaten ( kind of proven by the fact you have to soak them for a long time in water to make them edible ) I found the same with nuts. They can both be used in a healthy diet when improving from a regular diet but I believe they both result in the body producing a lot of mucus and are not designed to be eaten by humans.
    I am also surprised you include beans as surely they cannot be needed for the healthiest diet ( for starters they need cooking which surely tells you they are not a natural part of the human diet. ( and for protein ? )
    Raw fruit and vegetables provide the body with everything it needs carbs, fats and protein ( remembering a human mothers breast milk is about 6% protein and is enough to let a human grow at the fastest rate in the human life span – and that you get the same quantities from fruit and veg. You only have to look at the biggest strongest animals on the planet to understand that all of this talk about protein these days is rubbish.

    I personally have made these mistakes and lots more over the last 25+ years of experimenting with different diets – and at the very start was bodybuilding and consuming insane amounts of protein and to see everyone talk about protein now is a tragedy as it a lot of protein is not good for one’s health.

    Raw fruit and vegetables provide the body with all the nutrition it needs to stay healthy but good water and an active lifestyle are also needed for the best health.

    If one cannot maintain a raw diet ( as cooked food is the biggest addiction in the world ) then gently cooking these fruit and vegetables would be the next best thing in my opinion rather than adding seeds, beans and even nuts. These three can serve a purpose but are not the part of the healthiest diet you can have in my opinion. If a seed must be eaten I would recommend sprouting it first – likewise with nuts.

    Love and Peace
    Coco

  4. Tim says:

    If I didn’t already know you’ve been to True North, I might have guessed it from reading this article. I have been to True North too, and it was a transformative experience. So I agree with your advice right down the line. I stick pretty close to the eating style you describe, to great affect for my health. I am 63 with no health problems at all. That’s rare compared to my same-age friends and relations. And I sure love what I eat. It took me a while to adjust to no salt and no oil, but once I did, I don’t miss them. My biggest struggle is that I live with a spouse who stocks huge amounts of snack foods all over the kitchen and pantry. So I do nibble bad snacks every once in a while when I weaken. I am never tempted to buy such things, but when they stare you in the face day in and day out all day long, it’s tough to be pure. So I miss the ideal a little, but thankfully just a little. Eating out is a bit tough, as you say. I basically eat salads and baked potatoes when I’m forced to go to restaurants. Sometime steamed veggies are available. And I have to bring my own salad dressing. I enjoy those meals, but I do feel I look weird to other people unless I go with people who know me really well.

  5. Isabel says:

    I totally agree with you. I am already implementing these plus periodic colon irrigation, liver and gallbladder cleansing, yoga and dancing!

  6. Jane Jacobs says:

    Hello! Can you discuss the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I have Inflammatory Bowel Disease–Proctitis and my Naturalpath told me to go on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. My husband and I are still eating Vegan/Vegetarian/a little salmon, and little Elk meat. I took the CHIP program in 2005.

    Thank you, Jane Jacobs (Whitehorse, Yukon Canada)

  7. Luis Medrano says:

    Great variety of foods!

  8. kathy says:

    Very interesting. With all the diets out there about the protein amounts and then the low carb diet. I cannot figure what to really eat.
    And then the Candida issues—
    Your diet seems complete and I will also try to watch my salt and oils.

    Could you talk about how often and how much we really need. I heard recently that the older Asians bought one chicken to last for three days of meals for a family of 6 people. The meat was just basically for flavor. That is a very small amount.

  9. ilse says:

    Hi Fred, according to D Wolfe (I know) we must have omega 3 from oils (not even walnuts) because the body takes it better in than omega 3 from food… I would like your opinion (see also dr coussens : he promotes a high fat diet and me : I eat a low fat high raw vegan diet just like you but I am still confused…sorry….) thanks, Ilse

    • I take Chlorella which has omega 3 Chlorella is blue green algee the fish eats it & that’s how the fish has omega
      I go straight to the source. I get my chlorella from mike adams on natural news.com

  10. Very nice list!
    I would just add a few comments that hopefully refines the information a bit.
    Genesis 1. 29 defines the God given ideal diet which matches your list above. About grains, which you obviously know better than me, sprouting them or eating them while still tender and green makes them a lot better food. I believe this is the way they were consumed before men’s dietary perversions entered into the picture.
    Ecclesiastes 7.29 says: “Truly this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” Starting with burning food to death and butchering animals to eat them in ancient times, in “modern times” humans question God’s perfect creation and meddle into the very basics of life. So, while plants, as originally given, are ideal, humans are destroying even this vitally important resource. Maybe add a warning to your list to try to avoid plants modified or manipulated by humans.

    Thanks,

    Zsolt

  11. Hi Frederic.
    I always love reading your articles because they are well researched and written earnestly and honestly.
    I don’t always agree with everything you say but I suppose none of us knows for sure we have the correct answers.
    In fact, I believe that the answer for one person may not be the answer for another, (one man’s meat is another man’s poison!)
    Whilst agreeing that the western diet contains way too much meat, the one thing I would question about the vegan diet is that, if eating this way leaves you without vitamin B12, and in the position of having to take it in supplement form, surely this means we NEED some animal products? To my mind, the IDEAL diet should give you EVERYTHING you require without having to take supplements (which are as processed and man made as coffee!).
    I would love to hear other views on this.
    I broadly agree with your stance on grains, though, again, I think they suit some people and not others. This is where the Blood Group diet has the edge- it takes our individuality and evolutionary history into account.
    In Chinese Medicine (of which I am a practitioner) the ENERGETICS of the food and the patient are taken into consideration. Western health systems completely ignore this aspect of nutrition.
    Food is a fascinating subject as it’s the mainstay of our survival and it’s interesting to look at different points of view.
    Looking forward to your next article.
    Best regards,
    Teresa

  12. #1 diet is organic is minimally a first step for the benefits compared to cost and effort. I consider regular store food biological, chemical, genetic &/or radiation warfare.

    #2 The ultimate diet secret that very few experts are telling people is that:
    Super Mineralized Balanced Soils=Super Mineralized Balanced Healthy Plants=Super Mineralized Balanced Healthy Humans and Animals that eat those plants the more raw and fresh they are.

    http://ppnf.org/
    http://www.faim.org/nutrition/ppnfoverview.html The Dentist Weston Price head of over 60 dentists traveled to over 12 primitive societies in the world in the 1930s to study their nutrition and life styles. When they stayed with traditional practices of growing and using food, they had less than 1% cavities. The diets were on average over 10 vit D & A with over 4 calcium and phosphate (inferring micro minerals and vit K E etc. that scientists today are still learning more about) than the US diet at that time which is healthier than today’s diet.

    As soon as they started eating store food like white flour, canned goods and sugar, they developed up to 30% cavities and degeneration started happening the first generation with deformities showing up the next generation.

    In Pottenger’s cat studies, just by cooking the meat and pasturing the milk, degeneration started showing up in the first generation like diabetes, arthritis etc. By the 4rth generation, they were all sterile.

    Organics can have 4x to 10x more nutrition and 80% to 90% less agricultural chemicals showing up in 36 hours by urine testing. Of over 36,000 studies, only about 36 in the past have been done on organics.

    Each dollar spent on organics is about 20x the benefit for your health and the environment. Each dollar spent on regular store food is going to support agricultural corporations like Monsanto and then drug chemicals when a person gets sick and goes to the doctor #3 cause of death from drugs and their mistakes according to a JAMA article. In Israel, the death rate went down 50% when doctors went on strike.

    Animals are what they eat so if they are being fed GMO foods dematerialized and loaded with agricultural chemicals, that is going into their meat and those that eat them. 2 year old slaughtered GMO beef looks like 10 year old beef. Rats or mice showed vital organ damage starting within 90 days which is why Monsanto’s studies stopped there.

    GMO grain seeds are chosen for their ability to absorb glyphosate and not die. So they absorb up to 11x the normal plant.

    Minerals in soils going into plants has dropped to less than 5% over the last one years. Iron is less than 1/40 of what it used to be.

    http://media.mercola.com/ImageServer/Public/2014/May/mineral-deficiency.jpg Is a graph that is worth one year of expensive private college education exposing the 1B lies being taught.

    https://sites.google.com/site/plants4444 My rough website goes more into detail based on over $20,000 I have spent since age 20 on alternative health, my commercial farming background, study and research such as owning over 50 books including Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide 1M spent interviewing the top 400 Alternative Doctors in NA.

    Also herbs are super nutrition that a lot of people overlook. Buying bulk and pouring on food and I use in distilled water drinking off the top means super nutrition coming into my body.

    http://www.blackearth.com or http://www.humates.com have been blocked from FDA and Health Protection Canada approval to protect corp. profits

    Those are super mineralized balanced healthy plants from before the flood when skeletons of beavers the size of black bears have been uncovered. And people lived to 1,000 years of age. The Hunza’s near Pakistan are the longest living blue zone on earth with super mineralized balanced healthy soils 2 feet topsoil. The children are born with a full set of teeth.

    http://www.azomite.com is another company blocked but a person can buy bulk for plant use.

    I put black earth, azomite and a dolomite powder with my soaking organic mung beans, wild rice, lentils, etc. to increase the absorption and kirlian energy fields.

    I put bulk herbs, black earth humates etc. in my drinking distilled water.
    _______________________
    I plan on posting more free information on that website in the future.

    Anastasia is the wisest and best example of a person I know with her family 2.5 hectare domains with living energies of plants, bushes, trees, bee hives, pond, goat, herbs and garden. Then a person is getting love with their food and nutrition picked at the source when needed when it has the most nutrition.

    Back to Eden video 25M is another option in Washington.

    NP and others are scamming people when they don’t say 100% organic is first for the money spent. That way they can sell expensive consultations and supplements.

    I didn’t wake up to that until I read for composting, don’t use herbicide treated vegetation as it kills the probiotics in the compost pile. Well what is that doing to my stomach when I eat store food?

    Max Gerson observed as a boy that earth worms move off synthetic fertilized ground. I was wondering where I was on the evolutionary intelligence scale? Now I realize the earth worm is showing more intelligence and action than my self buying regular store food.

    And that earthworm has more integrity than the scientists, institutions and journalists reporting that organics are not significantly more in nutrition and not that much safer.

    Dark Field Live blood analyses shows GMO food vs. regular food and emf radiation poisoning from computers and cell phones for those that want hard data fast and personal data for themselves. Also electrodiagnostic machines are showing the harmful effects.

    A person can do a person test for themselves. Eat one food at a time and keep track of your heart rate and symptoms. Keep a journal along with a graph 1-100% each day.

    A person can muscle test and there are 2 options of
    % muscle testing http://www.sho-tai.ca uses or another one simpler that very few people know about yet in the world.

    http://www.realsalt.com buried from before the flood or Himalayan salt % muscle tests out a lot better than store salt with additives like flowing, whiteners etc. added. Celtic and sea salt is showing up with bacterial from bird droppings and chemical contamination

    I wished I wasn’t so emf sensitive and had some help to get this information out into the world.
    you can send an email to beenergy at telusplanet net and your phone number if so inclined.

    Buster

  13. john vanna says:

    The great Emmet Densmore MD wrote many scathing articles on grains ,such as the fact that grains have to be cooked to make them palatable.They also have sugar added,which sets the stage for Fermentation.Shelton said the human intestinal track is like a distillery,due to the fermentation.Dr G Clements agreed completely with that assessment,thereby condemning all cooked grains.They all stated how extremely acid forming they are,being the root cause of respiratory inflammation.Sour stomach,indigestion,and gas in the bowels are due to the alcohol and carbonic acid gas produced by fermentation

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