If you are determined to make healthy lifestyle changes and need a little structure and guidance, look no further than DASH! DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is much more than just a diet, and has benefits beyond stopping high blood pressure. U.S. News and World Report has ranked the DASH Diet the #1 choice in four categories of Best Diets for 2017: Best Overall Dier, Best Diet for Healthy Eating, Best Diabetes Diet, and Best Healthy Heart Diet. These honors are well deserved, as the eating and activity recommendations are top notch and easy to follow.
The original DASH study was conducted in the 1990s with extensive publications since then in peer-reviewed journals testifying to its success in reducing blood pressure, bad cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and weight. It is highly recommended by nutrition and health experts around the world because it includes whole foods that provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, not to mention color and variety.
What to include in the DASH lifestyle:
What to minimize in the DASH lifestyle:
For additional information, eating plans, recipes, serving sizes, and great tips, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov and type DASH in the search box. I hope you will use some of these recommendations!
As published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan
As we approach a new year, many are setting goals to eat better and maybe lose some newly gained holiday pounds. Last year brought new diets and recycled old diets, and had many of us talking about what, ultimately, is the best diet.
· Top-rated diets including the DASH, TLC and Biggest Loser diets encourage a variety of whole foods with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats, while discouraging processed foods. With reasonable portions, this blueprint has been shown to reduce weight and chronic disease risk.
· Clean eating plans, such as The Eat-Clean Diet and The Whole 30, allow you vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats while avoiding sugar, alcohol, additives and preservatives. Some versions eliminate grains, legumes and dairy, and others encourage you to have a cheat day. The concept encourages real foods rather than refined, which is never a bad thing, but it is not necessary to eliminate entire food groups unless you have an allergy or intolerance.
· Raw food diets claim that cooking makes food toxic, thus recommend only raw fruits, vegetables and grains. While some heating methods do destroy nutrients, there is no support for the claim that this diet pattern will cure headaches, allergies or arthritis. Even our ancestors used fire. Speaking of which ...
· Paleo-type diets, including the Caveman and Stone Age diets, profess that eating like our ancestors will make us leaner and less prone to chronic disease. This diet pattern allows meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and fats while eliminating grains, beans, peanuts, dairy, sugar and processed foods. This type of diet will lead to weight loss if you typically eat excess calories, but nutrition experts discourage a high meat intake and question the need to remove whole food groups.
· Detoxes and cleanses claim to clean you out and rev up your metabolism. If you really think you need to be cleaned out, which your body does naturally, try drinking 8 to 10 cups of water daily and increasing your fiber intake from fruits and vegetables. Then add daily physical activity for a metabolism boost.
· Vegetarian diets range from macrobiotic to vegan to inclusion of milk and eggs but no animal flesh. Popular versions include the China Study, Engine 2 and Skinny Bitch diets, and reasons for adhering to them range from weight loss to ethical beliefs. Pro: They all encourage vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Con: Some of these diets are extremely restrictive and make outrageous claims; eating is not meant to be punitive.
· My favorite rendition is “flexitarian” eating, emphasizing a plant-based intake (vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, whole grains) with a side of dairy, fish, lean meats and other animal products to your liking, and minimal processed foods. This eating style steers the body to a healthy weight while reducing the risk of chronic disease.
There is no best diet for weight loss; the most successful reduces calories, period. Choose a style you enjoy and can stick with, and include regular physical activity. For non-dieting tips, see our January newsletter at www.nutritioncenter.colostate.edu.
Happy eating and Happy New Year.
As published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan
A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine provided further evidence for what healthcare experts have proclaimed for years: a traditional Mediterranean diet is beneficial in reducing your risk of heart disease. And that’s not all! This dietary pattern is also linked to a lower risk of cancer, Parkinson's disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Fortunately, you don’t have to live in the Mediterranean to enjoy the benefits; you can incorporate small changes for an overall healthier pattern of eating.
Olive oil is the primary fat in Mediterranean cuisine and contains healthful monounsaturated fat. Use extra virgin oil for its rich color and flavor. Its moderately high smoke point makes it ideal for sautéing (but not frying), or it can be used as a bread dip or salad dressing. Be sure to use it in place of other fats, not in addition, as its calories still add up.
Fruits and vegetables are abundant in this pattern of eating, appearing at almost every meal and snack. They don’t have to be boring! Include a variety of colors, shapes, and textures, experimenting with a new one each week. With vegetables, vary your cooking style (grill, roast or sauté) and spices. Set yourself up for success by washing and slicing vegetables for snacks, keeping fruit where you can see it, and packing them into lunches and snacks the night before school or work.
Fish is much more common than red meat or processed meat (such as sausage). If fish fillets don’t interest you, be creative so the flavor isn’t overwhelming. You will often find my family preparing fish tacos with vegetables, layering smoked fish with light cream cheese on a bagel, simmering clams and calamari with tomato sauce, or grilling salmon in foil with sweet potatoes.
Legumes are plentiful in the Mediterranean eating pattern, and no wonder – they are high in fiber and protein, and satisfying enough to take the place of meat. Try garbanzo beans in a green salad or toss cannellini beans with pasta.
Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts are popular in the Mediterranean region. Although high in fat, they contain good fats that promote heart health, and small portions can be enjoyed on a regular basis. Try mixing them with dried fruit for a snack, with oats for breakfast, and with vegetables in a stir-fry.
Red wine is a traditional component of many meals, and has been linked to improved circulation and heart health. More is not better, though; limit your intake to one serving daily and if you don’t drink, health experts don’t recommend you start. Instead, try 4 ounces of red or purple grape juice, which is also beneficial.
The nutrient-rich foods in a Mediterranean-style diet are multicolored, flavorful, and easy to add to your day. Think in terms of what you can have, not what you should eliminate, and try one change each week. If you want to live a longer, healthier life, now is a good time to try incorporating easy Mediterranean habits into your diet!
As seen in the Fort Collins Coloradoan
Melissa Wdowik, PhD, RDN, LDN, FAND
is a nutrition educator with over 20 years experience as a college professor, nutrition coach, presenter and writer, as well as a nutrition consultant and founding director of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center.