Vegan, South Beach or balanced?
From years of working in healthcare marketing, I know that diet information dominates when it comes to creating great content and great offers. (Have you heard my story about the online cookbook that generated more than 7,000 responses?)
That’s a tale for another day.
But it seems to me that lately, there’s new controversy swirling among cardiologists about what constitutes a heart healthy diet today. South Beach, the “right-protein, right-carb” brainchild of Dr. Arthur Agatson, has been popular for a few years now, and it seems to have staying power. In fact, my brother-in-law’s doctor just prescribed it for him last week. A lot of meat eaters say it satisfies their cravings but still allows them to lose weight.
Recently, though, it seems that strict vegans are duking it out with those who espouse a more balanced diet. I got a heart health newsletter recently that touted the benefits of both diets in the same issue.
One camp led by Dr. Cadwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D. of the Cleveland Clinic claims that his plant-based, oil-free diet not only prevents heart disease but reverses it. Items we’ve all been led to believe are healthy, e.g., olive oil, fat-free dairy and even egg whites are all outlawed on Dr. Esselstyn’s plan. His son seems to be making a pretty good living with the Engine 2 diet, a version of his dad’s diet that he sold to his firefighter comrades in an effort to show “plant-based solidarity” for a fallen brother. Dr. Esselstyn’s plan is very strict, but former President Bill Clinton says it saved his life.
On the other hand, we see people like cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Mehmet Oz promoting a balanced diet that includes lean protein, fat-free dairy and tons of fruits and veggies. Several sources have recently published Dr. Oz’s top 100 foods for hearth health.
Most of the items on the list consist of fresh, whole foods – with the exception of soy hot dogs, which I personally find a little odd. But the list definitely includes items that are banned by Dr. Esselstyn: lean meats, low-fat dairy, eggs and even real butter in moderation.
Who is right? Dr. Esselstyn would have us believe that even in moderation, all animal products and oils are dangerous. Dr. Oz says animal proteins fill us up and that vitamins in milk fat are beneficial.
It’s a conundrum, especially for heart patients who are trying to make changes. How can they decide, and what’s our role as marketers in helping them sort it out?
I’m not really sure. At this point, I think it’s incumbent on us to continue to publish information put forth by reliable sources even if it’s contradictory. I admire aspects of each of these diet plans. Both emphasize a move away from America’s obsession with processed, high-fat, high-sodium, low-nutrition foods. And both can point to patients who have had great success following their plans.
I guess I still subscribe to the theory that it’s our job to publish information and then let people decide what is right for them.
What do you think?