The short answer to this question is yes, the Daniel Fast is healthy.
You see, the Daniel Fast is a whole food, plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. These foods have been shown to prevent and even reverse common chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Whole plant foods contain various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (naturally occurring substances in plants). These nutrients and non-nutritive compounds have been shown to stop free radicals, lower inflammation, and improve our health.
While on one hand the Daniel Fast is rich in nutritious whole plant foods, on the other hand it involves avoiding meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products. Science has shown that eating a diet high in animal products puts people at greater risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, chronic inflammation, and early death.
Below is a short sampling of studies that show either a direct cause or an association of eating what Daniel ate—a whole food, plant-based diet—with lower rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer.
There are also plenty of studies that show how eating a diet like the king’s in Daniel’s story—meat and animal products—is linked to higher rates of these diseases.
Healthy foods in the Daniel Fast
So load up! The Daniel Fast will help you get healthy with:
- leafy and cruciferous vegetables like arugula, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, and kale
- intact whole grains like quinoa, oat groats, amaranth and barley
- fresh fruit like berries, apples, oranges, kiwi, pomegranate, and pears
- mushrooms like portobello, white button, oyster, and shiitake
- starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and winter squash
- legumes like black beans, pinto beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- nuts and seeds like cashews, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
- fresh and dried herbs and spices like cumin, cilantro, parsley, turmeric, black pepper, and garlic
Studies showing foods in the Daniel Fast are healthy
- Alexander, S., et al., A plant-based diet and hypertension. Journal of geriatric cardiology : JGC, 2017. 14(5): p. 327-330.
- Aune, D., G. Ursin, and M.B. Veierød, Meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Diabetologia, 2009. 52(11): p. 2277-2287.
- Feskens, E.J.M., D. Sluik, and G.J. van Woudenbergh, Meat Consumption, Diabetes, and Its Complications. Current Diabetes Reports, 2013. 13(2): p. 298-306.
- Larsson, S.C., et al., Red meat consumption and risk of cancers of the proximal colon, distal colon and rectum: the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Int J Cancer, 2005. 113(5): p. 829-34.
- London, D.S. and B. Beezhold, A phytochemical-rich diet may explain the absence of age-related decline in visual acuity of Amazonian hunter-gatherers in Ecuador. Nutrition Research, 2015. 35(2): p. 107-117.
- McMacken, M. and S. Shah, A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. J Geriatr Cardiol, 2017. 14(5): p. 342-354.
- Morin, É., et al., A whole-food, plant-based nutrition program: Evaluation of cardiovascular outcomes and exploration of food choices determinants. Nutrition, 2019. 66: p. 54-61.
- Najjar, R.S., C.E. Moore, and B.D. Montgomery, A defined, plant-based diet utilized in an outpatient cardiovascular clinic effectively treats hypercholesterolemia and hypertension and reduces medications. Clinical Cardiology, 2018. 41(3): p. 307-313.
- Ornish, D., et al., Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease?: The Lifestyle Heart Trial. The Lancet, 1990. 336(8708): p. 129-133.
- Ornish, D., et al., Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease. JAMA, 1998. 280(23): p. 2001-2007.
- Pan, A., et al., Red meat consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011. 94(4): p. 1088-1096.
- Pischke, C.R., et al., Long-term effects of lifestyle changes on well-being and cardiac variables among coronary heart disease patients. Health Psychology, 2008. 27(5): p. 584-592.
- Pistollato, F. and M. Battino, Role of plant-based diets in the prevention and regression of metabolic syndrome and neurodegenerative diseases. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 2014. 40(1): p. 62-81.
- Song, M., et al., Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2016. 176(10): p. 1453-1463.
- Spence, J.D., D.J.A. Jenkins, and J. Davignon, Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque. Atherosclerosis, 2012. 224(2): p. 469-473.
- The InterAct, C., Association between dietary meat consumption and incident type 2 diabetes: the EPIC-InterAct study. Diabetologia, 2013. 56(1): p. 47-59.
- Tonstad, S., et al., Vegetarian diets and incidence of diabetes in the Adventist Health Study-2. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 2013. 23(4): p. 292-299.
- Tse, G. and G.D. Eslick, Egg consumption and risk of GI neoplasms: dose–response meta-analysis and systematic review. European Journal of Nutrition, 2014. 53(7): p. 1581-1590.
- Turner-McGrievy, G.M., et al., Randomization to plant-based dietary approaches leads to larger short-term improvements in Dietary Inflammatory Index scores and macronutrient intake compared with diets that contain meat. Nutrition Research, 2015. 35(2): p. 97-106.
- van Dam, R.M., et al., Dietary Fat and Meat Intake in Relation to Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Men. Diabetes Care, 2002. 25(3): p. 417-424.
- van Woudenbergh, G.J., et al., Meat Consumption and Its Association With C-Reactive Protein and Incident Type 2 Diabetes. The Rotterdam Study, 2012. 35(7): p. 1499-1505.
- Wang, Z., et al., Gut flora metabolism of phosphatidylcholine promotes cardiovascular disease. Nature, 2011. 472(7341): p. 57-63.
- Zhao, Z., et al., Body Iron Stores and Heme-Iron Intake in Relation to Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLOS ONE, 2012. 7(7): p. e41641.