The heart is the most critical organ in our body. It beats till we are alive. It supplies oxygenated blood to all the organs from the lungs. Furthermore, it brings back deoxygenated blood from other organs to the lungs. Hence, taking care of the heart is of utmost importance.
You must have heard about the DASH diet and other diets like low carb, gluten-free, intermittent fasting etc. that can protect your heart. We get some significant benefits if we follow DASH compared to other diets.
So here is all about DASH vs other diets for a healthy heart.
DASH Diet: An Overview
The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a diet that dieticians administer for persons who wish to avoid or cure hypertension, often known as high blood pressure, and lower their risk of heart disease. The DASH diet emphasises on fruits and vegetables while also including lean protein such as chicken, fish, and legumes. Red meat, salt, added sugar, and fat are all limited in the DASH diet.
The DASH diet recommends the consumption of no more than one teaspoon of salt per day. The sodium limit for the low-salt variant of the DASH diet is a three-fourths teaspoon per day. It is a very healthy diet for everyone, regardless of whether you suffer from high blood pressure.
This name expands to Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). So simply speaking, it’s a proven and effective diet to stop and control hypertension backed by scientific research.
The DASH diet encourages people to eat more vegetables and fruits, lean meat and dairy products, and include micronutrients in their diet. It also recommends lowering sodium intake to around 1500 mg per day. In addition, DASH promotes the consumption of fresh, minimally processed foods.
The DASH diet is similar to other dietary patterns available for cardiovascular health. However, a mix of ancient wisdom and contemporary learning culminated in the DASH diet. First, scientists used traditional nutritional principles to plan this diet. Then, it got modified to target some of today’s most common degenerative diseases.
The following is a typical serving guide for a patient on the DASH diet:
- Vegetables: five servings each day.
- Approximately five meals per day should contain fruits.
- About seven servings of cereals per day
- Two servings of low-fat dairy products per day
- Two or fewer servings of lean meat products per day
- 2 to 3 times a week, nuts and seeds
Starches and cellulose are the kinds of carbohydrates the human body cannot break down. Carbohydrates are widely present in plant fibres. Not just for energy but also for the protective micronutrients, starches or “carbs” must be incorporated into the diet.
DASH includes the following healthy carbohydrates:
- Spinach, kale, broccoli collards and mustards are examples of green leafy vegetables.
- Cracked wheat, millets, and oats are examples of whole grains.
- Fruits with a low glycemic index
- Beans and legumes
The inclusion of good fats is essential to our everyday meals to protect us from developing chronic diseases. Good fats help reduce inflammation, supply necessary fatty acids and improve general health.
In addition, these fats can raise HDL or good cholesterol and reduce Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol particles when ingested in moderation. DASH also includes the following sources of healthy fats:
- Olive oil
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
- Fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like tuna and salmon
Margarine, vegetable shortenings, and hydrogenated vegetable oils are bad fats. They result in increased tiny low-density lipoprotein particles, which promote plaque formation.
In addition, because fats are a high energy source, their consumption must be in moderation. As a result, the serving amounts are substantially smaller than the DASH recommendations for other nutrients.
Proteins in DASH Diet
The DASH diet recommends more plant proteins, such as soy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Lean meats like chicken and fish, eggs and low-fat dairy should make up the majority of animal protein in the diet. It is best to avoid cured and processed meats as they can lead to hypertension due to the addition of high amounts of sodium and preservatives.
The DASH diet also recommends eating foods high in calcium, potassium and magnesium, as these nutrients help avoid cardiac dysfunction and promote smooth muscle relaxation.
Spinach and banana, and orange are among the potassium-rich foods. In addition, green leafy vegetables and dairy products are high in calcium. Magnesium is a nutrient available in many foods, including whole grains, nuts, seeds and green vegetables.
Significant Health Benefits of the DASH diet
- Blood pressure reduces a few points in just two weeks of following the DASH diet, and if continued, the systolic blood pressure can drop by eight to fourteen points.
- The DASH diet also helps strengthen bone strength. In addition, it prevents osteoporosis by increasing calcium consumption from milk products and green leafy vegetables.
- Higher fresh vegetables and fruits are linked to lower long-term cancer risk.
- The DASH diet’s balanced food intake reduces metabolic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and neurological illnesses by lowering transfats consumption and replacing simple sugars with complex carbs. As a result, it leads to lower total and Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol blood levels, as well as lower blood pressure.
- Another advantage of the DASH diet is that it lowers the risk of gout by reducing uric acid levels in hyperuricemia patients.
DASH Diet with Weight Loss
If you have hypertension, you probably need to reduce weight. Also, this is because the more you weigh, the higher your blood pressure will be. Losing weight has also been demonstrated to lower blood pressure.
People who follow the DASH diet may lose weight, as per research. On the other hand, those who lost weight on the DASH diet were in a managed calorie deficit, meaning they consumed fewer calories than they expended.
People may discover that by eliminating a lot of sugary foods and high-fat from their diet, they immediately reduce their calorie consumption and lose weight. However, others may have to limit their consumption of calories intentionally.
The term “Mediterranean diet” refers to typical eating habits in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. There is no one-size-fits-all Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean consists of 16 countries.
Because of cultural differences, racial origin, religion, economy, geography, and agricultural production, eating styles differ between various countries and regions. There are, nevertheless, some commonalities.
A Mediterranean diet typically contains:
- Plenty of vegetables and fruits
- Slices of bread and other grains
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil is the primary fat source
- Low to moderate amounts of dairy products, eggs, fish, and chicken.
In this diet, fish and chicken are more prevalent than red meat.
It also emphasises plant-based foods that were minimally processed. Wine is usually had in small to moderate amounts with meals. Instead of sweets, fruit is a popular dessert.
Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are all risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and this way of eating can help prevent them. A Mediterranean diet high in virgin olive oil helps the body remove extra cholesterol from arteries to keep blood vessels healthy.
Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
When combined with physical activity, a typical Mediterranean diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seafood, and olive oil can lower your risk of physical and psychological diseases by:
- A Mediterranean diet restricts refined bread, highly processed, and red meat consumption, as well as encourages the consumption of red wine rather than hard liquor. All of which can help avoid heart attacks and strokes.
- If you’re an older adult, the nutrients you get from a Mediterranean diet may lower your risk of muscle weakness and other frailty indicators by 70%.
- The Mediterranean diet reduces cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and overall blood vessel health, possibly lowering Alzheimer’s disease or dementia risk.
- Parkinson’s disease risk gets cut in half. The Mediterranean diet’s high levels of antioxidants can protect cells from the destructive process of oxidative stress, lowering the risk of Parkinson’s disease by half.
- By lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease or cancers with the Mediterranean diet, you can reduce your risk of dying at any age by 20%.
- Defending against the onset of type 2 diabetes. A Mediterranean diet is high in fibre, slows digestion, minimises blood sugar swings, and helps you maintain a healthy weight.
Mediterranean Diet with Weight loss
The Mediterranean diet eliminates fast food and incorporates whole foods. Therefore, it is very beneficial for health and aids in weight loss. Also, research has proven the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet concerning weight loss.
A Flexitarian diet is a healthy diet plan that does not require tight dietary restrictions or calorie counting. Furthermore, it provides all of the advantages of a plant-based diet while keeping meat consumption to a minimum.
The flexitarian diet is becoming increasingly popular due to its numerous health benefits. Furthermore, because the diet is primarily vegetarian, it minimises calorie consumption.
The flexitarian diet is an excellent method to reduce your intake of animal products while increasing your intake of plant-based foods. More seeds, beans, lentils, legumes, and nuts.
These foods are high in protein and low in fat. Furthermore, reduced meat consumption has a favourable impact on the environment, lowering carbon emissions. Because it is simple to follow, uncomplicated, and healthful at the same time, the Flexitarian Diet is considered second-best overall.
Furthermore, it is a well-planned semi-vegetarian diet that delivers the proper quantity of nutrients while restricting meat consumption, lowering the body’s fat and cholesterol levels.
The flexitarian diet recommends that you consume:
- More plant-based protein and fewer animal products.
- Refined sugar and sweets in moderation.
- Vegetables, fruits, lentils, legumes, nuts and whole-grain foods.
- Consume fewer processed foods and a greater variety of natural foods.
- From time to time, include animal products, preferably lean meat and avoid red meat.
Health Benefits of Flexitarian Diet
- Manages diabetes – The flexitarian diet may aid in preventing or managing type 2 diabetes, according to a study. The Flexitarian Diet emphasises using plant-based foods such as legumes, fruits, whole grains, seeds, vegetables, and nuts while restricting the consumption of most animal products. Furthermore, those who follow a plant-based diet have a lower BMI, which helps protect against type 2 diabetes, compared to those who do not.
- Prevention of cancer – A flexitarian diet is similar to that of a vegetarian. Vegetarian diets get linked to a lower risk of cancer. Eating high-fibre foods, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, is part of the flexitarian diet. This type of diet can lower the risk of cancer. As a result, cancer risk can be reduced by eating a nutritious diet and limiting processed and red meat consumption.
- Skin Health Is Improved – Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes are abundant in a Flexitarian diet. Furthermore, these food groups are rich in vitamins A, C, and E and polyphenols. As a result, they assist in neutralising skin-damaging free radicals, reduce inflammation, protect against UV exposure, and develop skin support structures, such as collagen.
Flexitarian Diet with Weight Loss
A flexitarian diet is a well-balanced diet that restricts meat consumption. As a result, it has fewer calories than an omnivorous diet. Furthermore, a study found that eating plant-based or vegetarian cuisine delivers critical nutrients while lowering cholesterol and saturated fat levels in the body, resulting in weight loss.
Because it restricts the use of refined sugar and highly processed foods while encouraging the consumption of lower-calorie foods, the Flexitarian Diet aids in weight maintenance. As a result, folks who eat a plant-based diet shed more pounds than those who don’t.
There are numerous diets available. All have their different benefits. You need to know which one suits you best and will benefit you most.
Nothing is better than consulting a qualified nutritionist and getting the best, customised diet plan. This plan will help you meet your nutritional goals, and following it will make you healthy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is the DASH diet the best diet?
A. Yes, it is the best diet to stop hypertension. DASH promotes the eating of fresh, minimally processed foods. The DASH diet is similar to some dietary patterns recommended for cardiovascular health. The DASH diet has the goodness of both contemporary and traditional food wisdom. The conventional nutritional principles behind the diet got modified gradually to target some of today’s most common degenerative diseases.
Q. Is the DASH diet better than the Mediterranean diet?
A. The Mediterranean diet originates from culture and various backgrounds rounding the mediterranean sea. Scientists curated the dash diet to stop and control hypertension. Dash does not have variations, whereas the Mediterranean diet will vary from region to region. Due to its reproducibility and standardisation, the DASH diet is better than the Mediterranean diet.
Q. What diet is similar to the DASH diet?
A. The Mediterranean diet is similar to the dash diet. Also, both have whole fruits and vegetables in their diet plan. Dash has a restriction on sodium, and low sodium foods are allowed. None of the diets allows fast food or highly processed foods.
Q. What is the success rate of the DASH diet?
A. The DASH diet has been shown in numerous studies to have a wide range of health advantages. For example, a large body of studies shows that DASH lowers blood pressure in those with high blood pressure and normal blood pressure without cutting sodium intake. When sodium intake is limited to less than 2300 mg per day and even less than 1500 mg per day, a reduction in blood pressure is inevitable.
Q. What do doctors say about the DASH diet?
A. Doctors recommend a DASH diet to reduce blood pressure. Since the dash diet is proven and does bring down blood pressure, it also aids in weight loss.
Q. Can you combine the DASH diet with the Mediterranean diet?
A. Yes, you can. A diet plan that combines the DASH diet with the Mediterranean diet is known as the MIND diet if you want to combine both. Also, this is especially beneficial for the brain. It helps treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Q. Are eggs allowed on the DASH diet?
A. Yes, eggs are allowed in a dash diet. They are high biological value proteins that help repair and protect the muscles and tissues.
Q. Is the DASH diet low carb?
A. No, the dash diet has a good amount of carbohydrates. However, the source of carbohydrates is different. Complex carbohydrate sources like whole grains and millets are allowed, and refined carbohydrates are not.
Q. Is the DASH diet the same as the Mayo Clinic diet?
A. It is similar. The Mediterranean, The Mayo Clinic, and the Flexitarian Diet are highly respected diets identical to the DASH Diet. However, DASH is the only mainstream diet focusing on lowering salt levels.
Q. Can you drink alcohol on the DASH diet?
A. No, you cannot drink alcohol on a DASH diet. It is restricted. In limited quantities it can be good and does not abide by the guidelines of the dash diet.