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Sunday, January 12, 2014

What are the Best and the Worst Diets?

Every January the US News and World Report ranks the best diets.  They rank diets based on the best diets for your overall health, for weight loss, for diabetes, for heart health.   So what are the best diets as of January 2014?
Best Overall Diets
Number One:  DASH DIet
Two diets came out on top for best diets overall, the DASH diet and the TLC diet.  When teaching nutrition, I always tell my students about the DASH diet.  It is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.  So yes, it is recommended for those with high blood pressure.  But it is also a great diet for overall nutrition and for heart health.  It is a nutritionally sound and balanced diet.  The diet focuses on foods rich in potassium, calcium, protein and fiber to help fight or lower high blood pressure.  This diet was developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and they have free guides for the plan.  They offer a long guide of 64 pages, DASH Eating Plan Guide, or a shorter 6 page guide (Guide - short version).  The DASH diet is heart healthy as it has been shown to increase your “good” cholesterol, HDL, and lower your bad cholesterol, LDL.  Its focus is also heart healthy emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and  cutting back on saturated fats, added sugar and salt.
The diet plan has you first choose your calorie needs.  Then it provides a DASH Eating Plan based on these calories.  A 2000 calorie DASH diet would provide:
Grains – emphasize whole grains
6-8 servings
1 slice bread
¾ -1 cup cereal
½ cup cooked pasta
4-5 servings
1 c. raw
½ c. cooked
4-5 servings

Low-fat dairy
2-3 servings
1 c. milk/yogurt
1.5 oz cheese
Lean meats, poultry, fish
6 ounces or less

Nuts, seeds, legumes
4-5 servings a week
2 T PB, 2 T seeds, 1/3 c nuts, ½ cup cooked beans, peas
Fats and oils
2-3 servings
1 tsp margarine
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 T. mayonnaise
2 T salad dressing
Sweets/added sugars
5 or less servings per week
1 T sugar, 1 T, jam, 1 c. lemonade

Number Two:   TLC Diet
The TLC diet is also heart healthy and not a “fad” diet.  It is also developed by NIH, the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program.  It stands for the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet (TLC).  The American Heart Association has endorsed this diet as a heart healthy diet.  The key to its heart health is the emphasis on lowering the amount of fat you eat, especially saturated fat. 
Not only were the DASH diet and TLC diet ranked best overall, they also were ranked the best diets for Healthy Eating.  Both these diet provide adequate calories, all the food groups and the nutrients you need.  Thus, these diets are nutritionally sound and safe. 
Next week we will look at other diets ranked by the US News and World Report
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