Nutrition News: Best Diets, Blown Diets and Why Red Wine Is Better than Grape Juice

Find out why winter is the worst time to start a diet, the DASH diet takes top honors and red wine beats grape juice by a healthy measure.
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Photo by: Lana Langlois

Lana Langlois

Resolve to Forgive Yourself

If you’ve already blown your New Year’s resolution to diet, don’t be too hard on yourself; it may be evolution’s fault. According to researchers at the University of Exeter, in England, humans have a natural urge to overeat in the winter because our ancestors needed to build and maintain body fat to survive when food was scarce. "Storing fat is an insurance against the risk of failing to find food, which for pre-industrial humans was most likely in winter,” Andrew Higginson, the study’s lead author, said in a news release. “This suggests that New Year's Day is the worst possible time to start a new diet." Now they tell us.

DASH Does It Again

Then again, if you are going to diet, you might as well pick a good one. After consulting a panel of health experts, U.S News has released its annual best-diet list, ranking diets based on which were “easy to follow, nutritious, safe and effective for weight loss and preventing diabetes and heart disease.” For the sixth straight year, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, originally developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to combat high blood pressure, claimed top honors as the Best Overall Diet. (It was also named the Best Diet for Healthy Eating.) The panel commended DASH — which encourages the consumption of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, but little salt — for its “nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes and role in supporting heart health.”

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Wine glasses with carafe and champagne at dinner cocktail party

Red, Red Wine (Will Make You Feel So Fine)

If wine is good for you, would grape juice be better, carrying all the same health benefits minus the alcohol? Actually, no. In response to that reader-posed question, New York Times Well blogger Karen Weintraub consulted experts and concluded, “ Red wine is probably better for you than grape juice because the fermentation process involved in making wine changes the makeup of the juice, and the skin of the grape, which is loaded with healthful antioxidants, is more likely to be used in the winemaking process.” In terms of healthfulness related to nutrients known as polyphenols, red is better than white, which is better than beer, she noted. Plus, it’s not clear if the resveratrol in wine, which also has health benefits, is present in grape juice. Also, grape juice has a lot of sugar, which isn’t so great. And the alcohol in red wine isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Many observational studies have shown that drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation reduces the risk of coronary heart disease,” Weintraub noted. Cheers!

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish .

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