IN their book, It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways (2012, Victory Belt Publishing), Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig proposed a diet plan that claims to be balanced and sustainable for people to “eat forever.” This plan is based on the concept of “30-day nutritional reset,” which proposed a healthier mix of foods to the diet and avoiding less healthy foods. A large number of claims on specific food groups are relatively sound. However, there are glaring weaknesses in others.
A look into its more healthy food groupings in Part 4: More Healthy identifies meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables and fruit as “more healthy.” Meanwhile, in Part 3: Less Healthy, the Hartwigs identified sugar, sweeteners, alcohol, seed oils, grains, legumes and dairy as “less healthy” groups. From these lists, the weakness of this program can easily be seen through either a potential misclassification or simply limited evidence-based knowledge of food groups.
In the More Healthy list, classifying meat as “more healthy” is a controversial one because meat is definitely a food group that requires intake limits despite the fact that its protein content is needed for human muscle building and other uses. Red meats are naturally rich in saturated fatty acids, referred to as a bad cholesterol, which had been long established as the culprit in cardiovascular diseases and even malignancy. Thus, classifying it under “more healthy” will require voluminous justifications and qualifications than when classifying it under “less healthy.” However, if you check its inclusion in Chapter 13 with seafood and eggs, you can rightly deduce that only a few pages were spent at explaining meat issues satisfactorily.
In the Less Healthy list, the most controversial classification involves seed oils, which are given a whole chapter (Chapter 13) to deal with its inclusion in this list. Multiple evidence indicated that seed oils are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, often referred to as good cholesterol, which put to question the decision to classify this food group as “less healthy.” Tamer Ozcan, for instance, who studied six species of plants in the sand dunes of northwest Turkey that produce seed oils found that seed oils contain 83.09 to 87.80 percent unsaturated fatty acids (Chemistry of Natural Compounds, November 2014). Thus, considering food with high unsaturated fatty acid content is clear informational error. If there are ever any adverse health effects from seed oils, that can only be a minor characteristic of seed oils, which will merit its inclusion in the “more healthy” classification, instead of the “less healthy.”