What is the Fab Four diet?

The Fab Four diet is a plant-based eating plan that focuses on four groups of superfoods: berries, beans, greens, and seeds. It was created by exercise physiologist David Katz, MD, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

What are the main principles of the Fab Four diet?

The Fab Four diet is based on the following main principles:

  • Eat plenty of berries, beans, greens, and seeds – Katz calls these four groups of foods the “Fab Four” superfoods.
  • Eliminate or limit meat, dairy, eggs, and processed foods – the Fab Four diet encourages plant-based eating.
  • Focus on nutrient-dense whole foods – the diet favors unprocessed, minimally refined foods.
  • Avoid added sugars, refined grains, and unhealthy fats – the diet limits junk food, sugary snacks, and fried foods.

The idea is that sticking to the Fab Four superfood groups provides enough protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support optimal health. Katz created the diet after conducting extensive nutrition research at Yale.

What foods are part of the Fab Four diet?


Berries refer to all edible berries, including:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cranberries

Berries are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that help fight inflammation, cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline.


Beans and other legumes include:

  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Peanuts

Beans provide protein, fiber, and resistant starch to boost gut health. They also contain minerals like iron, magnesium, and potassium.


Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are highlighted, such as:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage

Greens contain calcium, iron, folate, vitamins C, E, and K, and provide antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin.


Seeds include:

  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds

Seeds supply protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, iron, and antioxidant phytonutrients.

What are the benefits of the Fab Four diet?

Research shows that diets high in plant foods like the Fab Four can provide many benefits:

  • Weight loss: The high fiber and protein content is satisfying and aids weight control.
  • Heart health: The diet is low in saturated fat and rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Diabetes prevention: Bean and vegetables can lower insulin resistance.
  • Cancer prevention: Phytochemicals in plants have anti-carcinogenic effects.
  • Gut health: The high fiber content feeds healthy gut bacteria.
  • Brain health: The antioxidants may fend off dementia and cognitive decline.

The diet provides balanced nutrition without the need to track calories or macronutrients.

What are some sample meals on the Fab Four diet?

Here is a look at potential meals and snacks on the Fab Four diet:


  • Oatmeal made with chia seeds, flaxseeds, berries, and almond milk
  • Scrambled tofu with kale and veggies
  • Avocado toast on whole grain bread with hemp seeds
  • Berry smoothie with spinach, peanut butter, and plant-based milk


  • Chickpea salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato, avocado
  • Minestrone soup loaded with beans, tomatoes, spinach
  • Veggie burrito bowl with beans, rice, salsa, guacamole
  • Collard green wrap with hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers


  • Black bean enchiladas with salsa verde and guacamole
  • Chickpea curry with spinach and brown rice
  • Buddha bowl with quinoa, roasted veggies, hemp seeds
  • Lentil shepherd’s pie topped with mashed cauliflower


  • Edamame
  • Trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruit
  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • Kale chips
  • Berry smoothie
  • Chickpea salad stuffed in celery sticks

Are there any downsides to the Fab Four diet?

Potential downsides of the Fab Four diet include:

  • Restrictive for some – the diet is focused on plant foods so strict vegetarians or vegans may find it too limiting.
  • Low in omega-3s – without fatty fish, a supplement may be needed to get adequate omega-3 fats.
  • Nutrient deficiencies – without proper planning, some nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, B12 and vitamin D could fall short.
  • High in antinutrients – beans and seeds contain compounds like phytic acid that impair mineral absorption.
  • Gut issues – increased fiber intake can cause gas, bloating or diarrhea.
  • Sustainability – sticking to the diet long-term without more variety could be difficult for some people.

However, these potential issues can be prevented by eating a well-balanced Fab Four diet and monitoring nutrition intake.

How is the Fab Four diet different from a Mediterranean diet?

While both emphasize whole plant foods, there are some key differences between the Fab Four diet and a Mediterranean diet:

Fab Four Diet Mediterranean Diet
Focuses on berries, beans, greens, seeds Emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil
Completely plant-based Includes low-to-moderate amounts of fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, and red meat
Very high in fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients High in antioxidants, good fats from olive oil, fish
Low in omega-3 fats without supplementation Provides omega-3s from fish and olive oil
Higher in phytates that reduce mineral absorption Low-to-moderate in antinutrients
More restrictive long-term Easier to sustain long-term with more variety

So while both diets are plant-focused and healthful overall, the Fab Four diet is more restrictive and higher in compounds that impair mineral absorption.

What are the pros and cons of berries?

Here are the main pros and cons of eating berries as part of the Fab Four diet:


  • High in antioxidants like anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol
  • Contain anti-inflammatory polyphenols that can reduce disease risk
  • Rich in vitamin C, manganese, and fiber
  • Relatively low in calories and carbs for a sweet, flavorful fruit
  • Phytonutrients may boost immunity and brain function
  • Easy to incorporate into smoothies, oatmeal, salads, desserts


  • Perishable and expensive when out of season
  • Contain fructose, a form of sugar that should be eaten in moderation
  • Some people may be allergic to certain berries like strawberries
  • Berries contain seeds that bother some people
  • Phytic acid in seeds can block mineral absorption

Overall, berries are a very nutritious addition to the Fab Four diet with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory benefits. The pros seem to outweigh the few potential cons.

What evidence is there to support the benefits of the Fab Four diet?

Some research studies support the benefits of emphasizing the Fab Four foods:

  • A 2021 study found higher intakes of berries, greens, beans, seeds, and nuts was associated with lower risk of cognitive decline in older adults over time.
  • A 2020 study associated increased fruit, vegetable, nut and legume intake with significantly lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • An observational study linked higher consumption of berry fruits, green leafy vegetables, and beans to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • A clinical trial in people with prediabetes found that increased vegetable, nut, and berry intake significantly improved markers of glycemic control and heart disease risk compared to a control diet.
  • Population studies link higher intakes of plant foods like the Fab Four to lower rates of cancer, particularly gastrointestinal cancers.
  • In a 6-week study, people who ate 1 cup of beans daily as part of a weight loss diet lost more body fat, suggesting beans’ benefits for weight control.

The Fab Four diet combines all these foods that evidence suggests provide synergistic benefits for health and longevity. More research is still needed on the diet as a whole, however.

What are some tips for success on the Fab Four diet?

Here are some tips to follow the Fab Four diet effectively:

  • Gradually increase Fab Four foods – don’t try to totally overhaul your diet overnight. Slowly ramp up your intake of berries, beans, greens and seeds over time.
  • Include all four food groups – aim to incorporate at least a few servings of each of the Fab Four foods daily for balanced nutrition.
  • Try new bean and green varieties – mix up the types of beans and greens you eat to add diversity.
  • Watch portions of seeds and nuts – they’re high in calories so stick to a handful or two per day.
  • Maximize nutrients – eat berries raw, steam greens lightly, sprout beans and seeds, and minimize antinutrients.
  • Supplement if needed – consider omega-3, vitamin B12 or vitamin D supplements to prevent deficiencies.
  • Meal prep – cook large batches of bean or lentil soups, stews, and chilis for quick meals.
  • Read labels – steer clear of packaged foods with added sugars, salt, and unhealthy fats.

With a little planning, the Fab Four diet can be simple, affordable, tasty and sustainable.


The Fab Four diet focuses on increasing intake of nutrient-dense superfoods – berries, beans, greens and seeds. It encourages plant-based eating for better health and longevity. Research suggests this style of eating provides cardiovascular benefits, aids weight loss and diabetes prevention, and may lower cancer risk. However, the restrictive nature may not work for everyone long-term. With careful planning to avoid nutrient shortfalls and minimize antinutrients, the Fab Four diet can be a nutritious approach focused on disease prevention.

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