During the first week of every new year, while we are all feeling motivated towards making healthful changes, U.S. News & World Report gives us their rankings of the “Best Diets Overall”. These are not actually “diets” as we usually think of them, but overall lifestyle approaches to eating well. This year looked similar to last year, with the DASH, and Mediterranean Diets ranking #1 & #2. And in fact, the #3 ranked MIND diet, is virtually a combination of these two.
The DASH diet (an acronym for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”) was developed as a heart-healthy diet whose primary aim is to lower blood pressure. It is fantastically good at doing that, but also has the added benefit of promoting weight reduction as well. The Mediterranean diet is a series of general guidelines that work well to promote weight reduction, but also seem to lower the risk of chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Let’s take a look at some of the guiding principles for these diet, and how well we are doing at meeting their targets. The DASH diet focuses on an intake of produce (vegetables & fruits), lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. It cautions against foods high in calories, sugar and fats, as well as excess sodium intake. The Mediterranean diet also has a rich focus on intakes of produce, and lean protein sources like fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs. It urges reserving intake of fatty meats, and sweets to special occasions only. In addition to these diet principles, it also encourages plenty of physical activity on a daily basis. So in general terms, we are looking at two diets whose primary focus is on nutritious plant-based, high fiber foods, in combination with lean protein sources.
Fortunately, the best aspects of these two diets probably look quite familiar to our clients on the VHP portal. For assistance with specific ways to apply these recommendations into your meal plan, speak with a Nutrition Consultant.