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Best Diets for 2017

The U S News and World Report recently published their annual assessment of the best 38 diets in 9 categories. For the past seven years, a panel of experts has selected the DASH diet as the best diet overall. The Mediterranean diet came in a close second while the MIND diet ranked third. What makes these diets healthy choices, and how do they differ?

DASH DIET (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension)

The DASH diet, originally establish to reduce high blood pressure, is nutritionally sound and promotes heart health. This diet includes the following daily servings; 4-5 each of  vegetables and fruits, 6-8 grains, 2-3 dairy products, 6 or less of fish, lean meat, poultry (one ounce is considered a serving), 2-3 fats or oils.

The diet suggests 4-5 servings a week of nuts, seeds, and legumes and less than 5 servings per week of sweets. For heathy individuals, the diet recommends limiting sodium to 2,300 mg/day or less. The elderly or those with certain health issues should not exceed 1,500 mg of sodium/day.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET

The Mediterranean diet is nutritionally sound with diverse foods and flavors. It represents the typical foods eaten by those living in the region around the Mediterranean Sea. That population tends to live longer and have fewer incidents of cardiovascular disease and cancer than is common to most Americans.

This eating plan may help with weight loss, improve heart and brain health, and reduce risks of cancer and diabetes. The Mediterranean diet doesn’t recommend specific amounts of foods. However, a typical diet consists of 7-10 servings of vegetables and fruits daily, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish (1-2 times per week) plus poultry and limited red meats. The diet avoids such foods as sausage, bacon, and other high-fat meats. This diet is  generous in nuts, and olive oil is used abundantly in place of other fats and oils.

MIND DIET (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay)

The MIND diet blends the Mediterranean and DASH diets plus specific recommended  foods. The aim of this diet is to delay memory loss and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It is categorized into 10 brain-healthy food groups and 5 unhealthy groups. Brain-healthy foods include green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, berries (blueberries/strawberries), nuts, beans (lentils, white beans, etc.), whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. Foods to avoid include red meat, butter/stick margarine, cheeses, pastries/sweets, and fried/fast foods.

Researchers found that those who strictly followed this diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s disease up to 53 percent. Even those who moderately followed the diet seemed to lower their risk by up to 35 percent.

BENEFITS

These three diets demonstrate that foods do make a difference in our mental capacity as well as our physical health. When followed faithfully, both the DASH and Mediterranean diets may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. However, unlike the MIND diet which can help divert the disease with moderate following, the DASH and Mediterranean diets must be followed closely to affect memory or neurodegenerative disease. The DASH diet decreases risk of cardiovascular disease, especially as related to blood pressure. The Mediterranean has been shown to decrease risks of cancer. If memory, dementia, and Alzheimer’s are a specific concern, follow the MIND diet.

Our health is in our hands. While other factors influence wellbeing, diet is a major contributor in maintaining quality of life.

 

 

 

 

 

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 If you thought the title referred to your opinions, think again. The more correct question should be what’s on your MIND Diet? That’s right. Although the diet has been around for a few years, we don’t hear much about it. But maybe we should.

Rush University Medical Center developed a diet to slow cognitive decline, namely Alzheimer’s disease, in older adults. The diet combined the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets and was referred to as the MIND Diet―Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

How significant is finding a diet to thwart this leading neurodegenerative condition―Alzheimer’s disease? More than five million people over age sixty-five are affected. The MIND diet may lower the risk of this disease by more than 50 percent. Even those inconsistent in following the diet can cut their risk by 35 percent.

The MIND diet has fifteen dietary components with ten brain-healthy groups and five unhealthy-brain food groups. See how closely you follow this diet to keep your brain functioning at its peak.

Healthy foods                                                           

  • Green leafy vegetables: Six servings or more per week of foods like spinach, kale, and salad greens.
  • Other vegetables: At least one-half cup cooked or one cup raw once a day.
  • Nuts: Five servings per week. One-third cup equals a serving.
  • Berries: Three servings per week. Blueberries and strawberries are the best choices for a positive impact on the mind.
  • Beans: Three or more servings per week. These include one-half cup of cooked lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, and similar varieties.
  • Whole grains: Three or more servings per day. Look for labels that say “100 percent whole grain.”
  • Fish: At least once per week. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines are preferred choices.
  • Poultry: Two or more servings per week. Remove skin and bake, broil, grill, or roast. Avoid frying.
  • Olive oil: Use as the main choice for cooking oil.
  • Wine: No more than one glass a day.

Unhealthy foods       

  • Red meats: Less than four servings a week. Use lean cuts and trim fat from those you do eat.
  • Butter/margarine: Less than a tablespoon daily.
  • Cheese: One serving each week. Most cheeses are high in fat and sodium. Swiss cheese is low in both and can add more cheese servings per week.
  • Pastries and sweets: Less than five servings a week. These contain high levels of sugar, fat, and sodium.
  • Fried or fast food: Less than one serving a week.

While this diet has many beneficial qualities that may lower the risks of many health issues―hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other maladies present as we age―there are drawbacks. Due to high levels of potassium and phosphorus, those with kidney disease should avoid this diet. Increased consumption of whole grains and other higher calorie foods may be inappropriate for those with diabetes.

For most of us, efforts to closely follow this diet may keep minds sharp and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. For this eating plan to become a part of our lifestyle, keeping a chart for several weeks helps. Below is one example.

To borrow from part of a cliché, the mind is a terrible thing to let waste away. Keep it healthier with the MIND Diet.

mind-chart-4

 

 

 

 

2016-10-06

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The U. S. News & World Report published the 2014 best diets in eight categories. The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) again rated as the best over-all diet and the best diet for healthy eating. What about this diet has caused it to rank number one for the past five years?

The government initially funded research to develop an eating plan to lower blood pressure that resulted in the DASH Diet. The diet scores high because of nutrients provided, safety, and its role in the prevention or control of diabetes and heart disease. While it is not designed for weight loss, those who follow this diet should maintain a healthy weight, and those with excessive body fat should lose extra pounds.

The Dash Diet increases “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides. The diet meets dietary standards for fat, protein, and carbohydrate. It provides ample fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin B-12, nutrients often deficient in diets. Although a little low in vitamin D, eating fortified cereal or foods such as sockeye salmon can help meet nutrient requirements.

The DASH Diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. It limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages, and red meats and is low in saturated and trans fats. Below are guidelines to help follow the DASH Diet.

  • Vegetables: Eat four to five servings a day based on a serving size of one cup raw leafy green vegetables or 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables. Vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, greens and others are high in fiber, vitamins, and such minerals as potassium and magnesium. Use vegetables served over brown rice or whole-wheat noodles as a main dish. Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables are all nutritious choices.
  • Fruits: Eat four to five servings a day based on a serving size of one medium fruit or 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit or 4-ounces  of juice. Fruits are high in fiber, potassium, and magnesium, and all except a few are low in fat. Serve at mealtime for dessert or as a snack.
  • Dairy: Consume two to three servings a day based on serving sizes of one cup skim or one-percent milk, one cup yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounce cheese. These are major sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein.
  • Grains: Eat six to eight servings a day based on serving sizes of one slice whole-wheat bread, one ounce dry cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta. For more fiber and nutrients, choose whole grains. Look for products labeled “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.”
  • Lean meat, poultry, and fish: Eat six or fewer servings a day based on serving sizes of one ounce cooked skinless poultry, seafood, lean meat, or one egg. These are rich sources of protein, B-vitamins, iron, and zinc. Reduce meat portions by one-third or one-half since even lean varieties contain fat and cholesterol. Trim away skin and fat from poultry and meat. Eat heart-healthy fish such as salmon, herring, and tuna.
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes: Choose four to five servings a week based on serving sizes of 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) nuts, 2 tablespoons seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked beans or peas. Almonds, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, peas, lentils and other foods in this family are good sources of magnesium, potassium, and protein as well as fiber and phytochemicals. Nuts contain healthy types of fat—monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids—and can be added to stir-fry, salad, or cereal. Also serve soybean-based products, such as tofu and tempeh, as alternatives to meat.
  • Fats and oils: Use two to three servings a day based on serving sizes of one teaspoon soft margarine, one tablespoon mayonnaise, or two tablespoons salad dressing. While fat is essential in the diet, many people consume too much which can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Choose healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Avoid trans fats that are often found in processed foods such as crackers and baked goods. Read food labels and choose foods lowest in saturated fat and free of trans fat.
  • Sweets: Limit to five or fewer a week. Serving sizes include one tablespoon sugar, jelly or jam, or 1/2 cup sorbet, Cut back on added sugar. Instead, use artificial sweeteners to curb the hunger for sweets.

Following the DASH Diet during 2015 can result in a healthier you. As a reminder, print and clip these guidelines and place on your refrigerator or in a place where you will see them daily. You can eat healthier and reap many rewards.

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If you work better with a diet plan, check the diets for 2014 ranked by the U. S. News & World Report (January... Clip art image of a group of healthy foods for a balance diet concept 7, 2014) as the most nutritious, safe, and easy to follow.

For the past four years, U. S. News has issued Best Diets in several categories as determined by experts in the fields of dietetics, nutrition, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. From thirty-two plans, the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) once again ranked as the best diet overall. The federal government initially funded research for this diet and doesn’t consider it a diet but an “eating plan.” It consists of foods lower in sodium to help reduce blood pressure.

The TLC Diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes), a solid diet plan developed by the National Institute of Health, ranked second. Three diets tied for third; Mayo Clinic Diet, Mediterranean Diet, and Weight Watchers.

If you are seeking to lose weight, Weight Watchers topped the list followed by Jenny Craig, Biggest Loser, and Raw Food Diet. You can see the ranking of all thirty-two weight-loss diets at this link. Six other categories ranked the best diets for diabetes, heart, healthy eating, easiest to follow, best commercial diet plans, and best plant-based diets.

What is the best diet for you? These rankings show that no one diet plan is ideal for everyone. If you want a plan for healthy eating, the DASH and TLC diets again ranked first and second followed by the Mediterranean Diet. See the entire ranking for healthy diets here.

Continue your quest to eat healthier in 2014, and use these diets as a guide toward becoming a healthier and maybe even a happier you.

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