A new study found that when it comes to heart health and inflammation, the right foods matter more than macros.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
August 30, 2019

You may not realize it, but macronutrient focused diets have been trendy for some time. There was low-fat diets in the 90s, and now low-carb diets like the keto diet, and just plain counting your macros. People love these diets because they are strict, but flexible. If a food fits in your macro or carb goals, it's fair game. But is this really healthy? And is one better than the other?

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Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center set out to see if macronutrient-focused diets made a difference on health and risk of chronic disease. They followed 164 people with high blood pressure or hypertension and randomly assigned them to three different diets over six weeks. The first diet was similar to the DASH diet, and contained around 58% of calories from carbs. The second diet was a higher-protein diet, with 10 percent of calories from carbs replaced with protein and the third was a higher-fat diet, replacing 10 percent of calories from carbs with unsaturated fat. These diets were all moderate in carbohydrates, protein and fat—and consistent with the DASH diet—but with small tweaks to the macronutrient levels.

Pictured: Greek Kale Salad with Quinoa & Chicken

The results? People on all three diets improved their health. The catch? They were all eating four to six servings of vegetables over the course of the study. The diets were all also low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Each macronutrient ratio led to reduced levels of inflammation and cardiac injury, even over the short time period. From these findings, they recommended any variation of these diets, so long as it is mostly comprised of healthy foods and a variety of food groups.

Rather than getting caught up on how many grams of protein or fat or carbohydrates to eat you may be better off eating more vegetables, fruits whole grains and healthy fats.

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