I won’t leave you in suspense. The best overall diet, as rated by U.S. News and World Report, was the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of the DASH diet before – probably because it hasn’t been glamourized by celebrities yet. (Maybe Carole Middleton may be interested in having a go at it?). I admit that I’m not immune to celebrity endorsed diets, but when it comes to health, not just weight loss and diet fads, the DASH diet is the big cahuna, beating out 19 other diets based on nutrition, diabetes and heart disease.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the DASH diet helps lower blood pressure and bad (LDL) cholesterol, thereby combating the risk of heart and kidney disease, stroke, and blindness. It encourages people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and lean meats such as chicken and fish. And to limit sugar, added fats, alcohol and most importantly, sodium. The diet is rich in potassium, calcium, protein, magnesium and fibre. Here is a breakdown of what to eat on a DASH diet based on 2000 calories a day as recommended by Dietitians of Canada:
|Food group||Servings per day||Example of one serving size|
|Grain||6 to 8||1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup pasta|
|Vegetables||4 to 5||1/2 cup cooked vegetable|
|Fruits||4 to 5||1 medium fruit or 1/2 cup frozen fruit|
|Low and non-fat dairy foods||2 to 3||1 cup yogurt or 1 1/2 oz cheese|
|Lean meats, poultry and fish||4 to 5 per week||1 oz cooked meat or 1 egg|
|Nuts, seeds, and legumes||4 to 5 per week||1/2 cup peas or 2 tbsp peanut butter|
|Fats and oils||2 to 3||1 tsp soft margarine or 1 tsp vegetable oil|
|Sweets and added sugars||5 servings or less per week||1 tbsp sugar or 1 tbsp of jam|
For more information on how to lower blood pressure and DASH diet meal plans, visit National Institutes of Health.
Interested in recipes that are DASH diet approved? Here’s a healthy white bean dip recipe to try:
White bean dip (from the Mayo Clinic)
1 can (15 ounces) white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
8 garlic cloves, roasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. In a blender or food processor, add the beans, roasted garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Blend until smooth.
2. Serve on top of thin slices of toasted French bread or pita triangles. This is also excellent placed on top of red (sweet) bell peppers cut into squares.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): Calories 109, Cholesterol 0 mg, Protein 5 g, Sodium 105 mg, Carbohydrate 15 g, Fibre 3 g, Total fat 4 g, Potassium 314 mg, Saturated fat trace, Calcium 53 mg, Monounsaturated fat 3 g.
For more DASH recipes, visit MayoClinic.com.