Debunking the “blood-type diet”

A question that I've often received is whether the 'blood-type diet' is based on good genetic research. People comment "I have to eat a lot of meat because I'm type O blood". Is the best diet for you - vegetarian, lots of meat, etc.  - based entirely on your blood type? Read on to find out whether there is any scientific fact to this decades-old idea... Before we get started, you will notice this article is a departure from my usual focus on the genetic variants that impact health. While I've backed up the science with references and links, please talk with a nutritionist if you are needing help with your personal dietary problems. We are all unique :-)

What is the blood type diet? 

This diet is based on a popular book from 1996,  Eat Right for Your Blood Type by Dr. D'Animo, which has sold more than 7 million copies.  The premise of the book is that different ABO blood types can predict your best type of diet.

A quick overview of Eat Right for Your Blood Type:

The Eat Right for Your Blood Type book essentially says the following:
  • Blood type O is ancestral, and thus, people with type O should eat a high animal protein diet, as the hunter-gatherers did.
  • People with blood type A should eat more like an agrarian society, which would be more of a vegetarian diet.
  • Blood type B supposedly originated in nomadic tribes. Therefore people with type B should eat dairy products.
  • People with type AB should benefit from a mix of the type A diet and type B diet.
The book gets more detailed and gives specific foods to avoid for each blood type.  For example:
  • Type O should avoid: wheat, corn, navy beans, lentils, kidney beans, dairy
  • Type O should eat more: kelp, seafood, red meat, kale, spinach, broccoli, olive oil

Before we get into the science...

Let's take a common-sense approach to the core ideas, which are:
  • your blood type indicates you should eat what your ancestors ate a hundred thousand years ago
  • there are foods you should avoid because they can cause a reaction with your blood type
First common-sense point: There is a mix of blood types in all ethnicities around the world, but the percentages vary a bit. For example, there is a higher percentage of type B+ people who are African American than there are in Caucasian population groups. (data source)

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