The Mediterranean diet is most famous for its benefit to heart health, decreasing the risk of heart disease by, in part, lowering levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and reducing mortality from cardiovascular conditions. It’s also been credited with a lower likelihood of certain cancers, like breast cancer, as well as conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. (1)
U.S. News’s Best Diets rankings are put together by a panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants, and doctors specializing in diabetes, heart health, and weight loss. Each member of the panel scored all 41 diets in seven different areas, including how easy they are to follow, how well they protect against chronic disease, and how likely it is that followers will actually lose weight and keep it off.
During the 1920s and 1930s, when the only anticonvulsant drugs were the sedative bromides (discovered 1857) and phenobarbital (1912), the ketogenic diet was widely used and studied. This changed in 1938 when H. Houston Merritt, Jr. and Tracy Putnam discovered phenytoin (Dilantin), and the focus of research shifted to discovering new drugs. With the introduction of sodium valproate in the 1970s, drugs were available to neurologists that were effective across a broad range of epileptic syndromes and seizure types. The use of the ketogenic diet, by this time restricted to difficult cases such as Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, declined further.
Researchers at Florida State University studied watermelon for its ability to regulate blood pressure due to it being “one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline”, an amino acid that the body converts into L-arginine, which improves circulation. They discovered that watermelon, due to its high L-citrulline, may prevent pre-hypertension from becoming full blown hypertension.
A slew of articles in recent months have referred to the ketogenic diet as a “fad” or “trend.” It’s “dangerous,” claimed one article, and an anonymous post by the Harvard Public School of Public Health said the diet “comes with serious risks.”1 Yet strangely, these critics seldom cite scientists or doctors who work with the diet, and many—including the Harvard article—cite no medical literature to substantiate their allegations. Without substantiation, many simply rehash long-contradicted, outdated claims.