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Archive for January 21st, 2013

In the last blog (Dumb and Dumber Diets in 2012, January 13, 2013), I identified loser diets for last year. If those diets were ridiculous, who were the winners?

Each year nutrition experts evaluate more than 25 diets for the US News & World Report to decide the best overall diet. For the third year in a row, they chose the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Scores were based on whether diets were easy to follow, nutritious, and safe and effective.

The primary focus of the DASH diet, developed by National Institute of Health, is to decrease sodium intake and thereby lower blood pressure. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend a maximum of 2300 milligrams (mg) per day, the equivalent of about one teaspoon of salt. For African-Americans, those over age fifty-one or individuals who have chronic diseases of hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease,the suggested limit is 1500 mg/day. The DASH diet also effectively lowers cholesterol and reduces risks for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

What is this #1 diet? The DASH plan requires no special foods or difficult-to-follow recipes. It is based on eating a specific amount of servings from fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk products, whole grains, and protein foods from lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, and seeds. It is lower in sodium, sweets, added sugars, and fats than what most Americans eat.

If you choose to follow this healthy diet, change your eating pattern slowly. Sudden increased amounts of fiber from fruits, vegetables, and grains may cause bloating and digestive upsets. Symptoms subside as your body system adjusts to healthier fares. The additional fiber is a benefit for overall health. If you eat very few fruits/vegetables, start with a vegetable at lunch the first day—maybe a salad or raw carrot strips—and alternate with a vegetable serving the next day at dinner. Add a fruit of your choice during the day. Gradually add more fruits and vegetables.

Alter milk products to lower the amount of fat in your diet. Begin with 2% products and gradually reduce the amount of fat over a period of weeks. Choose low-fat cottage cheese, yogurt, and other milk products.

The DASH diet is similar to recommendations from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. A daily comparison for a 2000 calorie diet looks like this:

2010 DIETARY GUIDELINES
FRUITS: 4 Servings
VEGETABLES: 5 Servings
GRAINS: 6 Servings (1 oz./serving)
At least half from whole grain.
PROTEIN FOODS: 5½ oz.
Choose from lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
DAIRY:  3 cups equivalent
Choose low-fat or skim products.

DASH DIET
FRUITS: 4-5 Servings
VEGETABLES: 4-5 Servings
GRAINS: 6-8 Servings (1 oz./serving)
At least half from whole grain.
PROTEIN FOODS: Less than 6 oz.
Choose from lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
DAIRY: 2-3 cups equivalent
Choose low-fat or skim products.

Check out more information on the DASH diet at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/dash_brief.pdf.  Find sample menus at: http://dashdiet.org/sample_menu.asp, and see select recipes at: http://dashdiet.org/DASH_diet_recipes.asp

Other good choices are out there, but if you want #1, DASH is the way to go. Why wait to start getting healthier?

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