Changing your diet is about so much more than losing weight. The foods you choose fuel your body and keep entire organ systems running more efficiently. When considering incorporating a new diet, think of it as a lifestyle change of healthy eating that’s good for your heart—and can also help you shed unwanted pounds. While some fad diets may help people lose weight, the impact they can have on cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart health aren’t worth the new, lower number on the scale.
Lifestyle changes—not diets—can lead to long-term health and wellness
Both the Mediterranean and DASH eating plans allow for flexibility in food choices and help incorporate important nutrients that are key for your heart—and overall—health.
The Mediterranean diet
One approach to eating that’s heart healthy—and delicious—is the Mediterranean diet. Year after year it is recommended by experts for its nutritional benefits, how well it works and how easy it is to follow.
The American Heart Association recommends the Mediterranean diet for the following reasons:
• It emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes
• It allows for healthy fats, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins like fish and chicken
• It greatly reduces saturated fats, highly processed foods, sugar and refined carbohydrates
• There is even evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil can remove cholesterol from arteries
To learn more about the Mediterranean diet, reference this guide by Harvard Health.
When you dine, DASH
Created to treat or prevent high blood pressure, and recommended for diabetics, the DASH eating pattern is a lifestyle change featuring foods that can help improve heart health and overall wellness. Though not a traditional diet, it can accomplish some similar things, like weight loss.
DASH is an acronym that stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, something critical to heart health. The approach is centered around reducing sodium intake and choosing foods that provide nutrients that help lower blood pressure—like potassium, calcium and magnesium. DASH also provides health benefits beyond lowering blood pressure and cholesterol; it aligns with recommendations to prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. DASH eating is often considered easier for many to adapt to as it requires no special foods—but instead provides nutritional goals that help guide people toward better choices.
Recommendations for incorporating the DASH eating plan:
• Choose whole grains
• Eat fresh vegetables and fruits
• Limit sugars, sweets and sweetened beverages
• Eliminate or limit foods that are high in saturated fat—such as full-fat dairy products, fatty meats and tropical oils (coconut, palm kernel and palm oils)
For added information about incorporating DASH eating, reference this guide from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The providers at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital are always here to help with any questions or concerns you have about your health. Schedule an appointment with a provider or call to speak with a nurse if you have questions.