Purpose of review: Given scientific and public debate about optimal diet to prevent cardiovascular disease, and interest in diet and other chronic diseases, we propose that following a few simple dietary principles would reduce chronic disease incidence.
Recent findings: Nutrition research has been criticized for focusing on individual nutrients and foods, treated like drug therapy. With a few important exceptions, clinical trials of supplemental nutrients have not shown benefit. Although highly specific nutrition information is elusive, diet patterns have provided consistent answers, important for public health. Observational cohort studies have found that some dietary patterns are reported with high reliability over long periods and predict future cardiovascular and other inflammatory-related diseases. Two randomized clinical trials confirmed this finding. There are many common features of Mediterranean and prudent diets, particularly the plant-centered aspect, coupled with variety of foods eaten. A dietary pattern characterized by high fruit, vegetable, legume, whole grain, nut, berry, seed, and fish intakes, and possibly by intakes of dairy, coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcohol (not in excess), but low meat and detrimentally processed foods is associated with reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease and rates of noncardiovascular, noncancer chronic inflammatory-related mortality.
Summary: A plant-centered diet may be broadly recommended.