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Top 3 Diets: DASH, Mediterranean and MIND

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Healthy diets with fruits and vegetables
To help you put your best fork forward, this article features the top three diets for 2017 ranked by U.S. News and World Report. The common theme is they all are based on healthy eating patterns that allow for flexibility, which leads to sustainability and long-term success.  

#1: DASH Diet
DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was created by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. There are guides to help you develop a specific plan, but the basic daily recommendations include:
  • 6 to 8 servings of grains
  • 4 to 5 servings each of fruits and vegetables  
  • 2 to 3 servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy
  • 6 ounces or less of lean meat, poultry and fish
  • 3 to 5 servings a week of nuts and legumes
  • 2,300 milligrams or less of sodium  
DASH encourages consumption of healthy oils, such as olive oil and occasional sweets. The lean proteins and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day, and the occasional treat allows you to enjoy food without feeling deprived.

Research supports the ability to lose and maintain weight with this meal plan because it satisfies hunger. You can ease into this plan by adding more fruits or vegetables to your diet and experimenting with a variety of salt-free seasonings.

#2: Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is based on the idea that those who live along the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer fewer chronic diseases than Americans. The Harvard School of Public Health and Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, developed the diet based on the dietary patterns of these populations. It encourages:
  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, herbs/spices and fish/seafood often  
  • Occasional consumption of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt
  • Reserving sweets and red meat for special occasions
This plan helps you feel fuller longer with the help of healthy fats from olive oil and the fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains. There is also strong research supporting moderate weight loss on this plan.

#3: MIND Diet
The MIND diet, Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, is a combination of the DASH and Mediterranean diets with the goal of preventing mental decline by incorporating brain-healthy foods.

Martha Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist, developed this diet through a study on aging by grouping together foods consumed by people with good mental ability and people with mental decline. The diet encourages incorporating healthy foods into your current plan and allows flexibility while dining out.  

Ten “brain-healthy” foods to include:
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil
  • Wine
 Five “unhealthy” foods to avoid:
  • Red meats
  • Butter and stick margarine
  • Cheese
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Fried/fast food
Research is ongoing as this diet was recently developed, but many believe it should help in weight loss and maintenance because it encourages frequent consumption of healthy foods.
While these three food plans are called “diets,” they focus on long-term healthy eating patterns without deprivation. Put your best fork forward by incorporating some of these top three “diet” recommendations into your daily habits.

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit or call 972.560.2655. Article provided by Ellee Ellison, Texas A&M University student, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.