Paleo diet effective for weight loss

The popular Paleo diet plan is more effective for weight loss than previously thought, research finds.

A Paleo diet encourages consumption of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts and eggs, and is based on foods presumed to be available to Paleolithic humans. Legumes, processed oils and dairy products are banned.

As part of research into the diet, experts from Australia’s Edith Cowan University (ECU) put 39 healthy women on either a standard diet or a Paleo regime for four weeks. Following the trial, lead researcher Angela Genoni said women on the Paleo diet lost an average of two kilograms (4.4 pounds) more over the period than the standard diet control group.

“While both groups lost weight over the period, the Paleo group lost an average of 4.3 per cent of their body weight over the testing period, compared to 1.6 per cent for the recommended dietary guidelines group,” she said, according to ABC News.

Those on the standard diet were asked to increase vegetable and fruit intake and whole grain products, reduce fat intake, and consume low fat dairy products.

“Advice was also given to reduce intake of discretionary food items, such as cakes, biscuits, sugary drinks and candy,” the report noted.

Researchers also compared the impact of the diets on cardiovascular health and found no significant difference between the two diets. But as the long-term health effects of eating a Paleo diet remain unclear, and despite the weight loss on a Paleo diet, they were careful not to advocate for any diet that cuts out whole food groups.

For instance, the researchers found that while the reduction in carbohydrate consumption did not impact on fiber intake in the Paleolithic group, significant reductions in thiamin, riboflavin and calcium levels were noted.

“Significantly, the Paleo diet markedly reduces the calcium intake relative to the (standard healthy guidelines) diet because it excludes all dairy products, which could have a negative impact on bone strength, particularly in older people,” Genoni said.

The researchers are planning further studies to investigate the impact of the Paleo diet on gut heath as well as to assess the impact of such diets over a longer term.

The study results were first published in the Nutrients journal.

Reasons to eat more cauliflower

Many popular diets advise against eating anything white – rice, sugar, white bread and pasta.

However, cauliflower is one white food you should feel good about incorporating into your diet.

Cauliflower – a cruciferous vegetable which is in the same plant family as broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards – contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients, that may help neutralize damaging toxins. But there is a new reason this vegetable shouldn’t be underestimated.

A study published in the European Journal of Cancer has given further reasons to serve up some of this fibrous gem. Conducted in 2015, researchers found a link between the consumption of fruit and white vegetables, namely cauliflower, and a lower risk of stomach cancer. Following analysis of over 32,000 gastric cancer cases and assessing their respective diets, the researchers discovered sodium and alcohol, specifically beer and liqor, to be particularly high-risk dietary factors. They then realized foods rich in vitamin C tend to have a “protective effect” against gastric cancer. Such foods tend to be fruit and white vegetables that include potatoes, endives, onions, and our number one vegetable, cauliflower.

What are some of the health benefits of cauliflower?

Around 100 grams of raw white cauliflower provides 25 calories, is low in fat and carbohydrates. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, and a very good source of manganese. To receive health benefits, include cauliflower as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis. At a minimum, include cruciferous vegetables as part of your diet 2-3 times per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups.

What to look for when buying cauliflower

When purchasing cauliflower, look for a clean, creamy white, compact curd in which the clusters are not separated. Spotted or dull-coloured cauliflower should be avoided, as well as those in which small flowers appear. Heads that are surrounded by many thick green leaves are better protected and will be fresher. Store uncooked cauliflower in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to a week.

Cauliflower at mealtimes

As with all vegetables be sure not to overcook cauliflower. Rather than the more traditional methods of boiling or steaming – which tends to make the vegetable flavorless – cut cauliflower florets into quarters before cooking with a pinch of turmeric for added punch. Or simply blitz cauliflower florets in a food processor for a couple of seconds for a low-carb side dish. A great replacement for rice in curry or couscous!