The Best Diets for 2018: Mediterranean and DASH

The Best Diets for 2018: Mediterranean and DASH

According to an annual evaluation for 2018 by U.S. News & World Report, from 40 diets, the Mediterranean and DASH diet were identified as top-rated. In order to be the best, the diet needed to be easy to follow, safe, nutritious, protective against heart disease and diabetes, and of course, to be effectual in triggering a healthy and balanced loss of weight.

As explained on Web MD, the DASH diet is short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and it is based on the consumption of fruits, veggies, whole grains, whereas the intake of salt is minimized. The Mediterranean diet also puts the accent on the regular consumption of whole grains, veggies, and fruits, but on reduction in alcohol intake too. Both diets advocate for lean proteins from fish and chicken. 

With this in mind, this article will focus on presenting the major aspects of these two diets so that readers can decide if any of these two diets is a suitable option for them.

The Mediterranean Diet

With certainty, if you are in need of a diet plan that will trigger weight loss and keep your heart healthy, this is the ultimate one. It is based on foods and recipes prepared in a Mediterranean cooking style, i.e. cooking in countries on the border of the Mediterranean Sea. As seen on Mayo Clinic, research indicates the benefits of this diet in minimizing the chance of heart illness arise from the reduction of bad cholesterol which is known to build up in the arteries. Other known health benefits of following this diet are the lower risk of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

The Basics of The Diet

  • Plant-based foods like veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes
  • Exclusion of butter and inclusion of healthy fats like olive oil
  • Flavoring foods with herbs and spices, not with salt
  • The intake of red meat is reduced to several times per month
  • Fish and poultry should be eaten twice per week at least
  • Red wine can be consumed in moderation
  • Regular exercise and physical activity is pivotal
  • Meals should be enjoyed with family and friends

Major Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

As explained on Draxe, unlike the standard American diet, this one is very low on sugar and artificial sweeteners and enhancers. To satisfy the need for sweets, the Mediterranean diet suggests a fruit or homemade desserts made with natural sweetening options like honey. Furthermore, if you want to get rid of surplus pounds without having to starve yourself and to prevent the yo-yo effect, this can be a viable, long-term solution because it is a sustainable diet with proven weight loss and fat reduction benefits. It has also been linked with a 30 percent lower risk of cardiac death and, what’s more, olive oil, which is advocated by this diet, is capable of reducing high blood pressure by increasing the bioavailability of nitric oxide.

Other significant proven benefits of the Mediterranean diet are:

  • Prevention of cancer due to the effect of a balanced amount of fatty acids, fiber, polyphenols, and antioxidants
  • Prevention and treatment of diabetes because of the abundance of fresh produce
  • A great option for longevity
  • Enhances the cognition and mood
  • Decreases negative stress

Disadvantages of the Mediterranean Diet

As pointed out on Live Strong, some find this diet confusing due to the non-existent precise serving amounts that should be consumed on a daily basis, though it provides macronutrient distribution ranges. As parameters for calorie intake and physical activity are not precisely measured, people who are in need of such measurements may therefore not benefit. Moreover, one to two glasses of wine is highly recommendable for people who decide to follow this diet; however, this may not be advantageous for individuals taking specific meds and people with pancreatitis or higher level of triglycerides.

The DASH Diet

According to Dash Diet, the DASH diet plan was created by the US National Institutes of Health with the goal to help patients with hypertension to decrease the blood pressure without the use of meds. Research has also shown, in addition to the diet’s power to regulate the blood pressure, that it can decrease one’s risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and kidney stones. The diet will help you shed extra pounds and improve your overall health while you enjoy tasty foods.

The Basics of the Diet

The goal of the diet is to eat more fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy, as well as whole grains, lean meat, nuts, and beans. What many particularly appreciate about this diet plan is its flexibility to meet most food preferences and lifestyles and some consider it to be an “Americanized version” of the Mediterranean diet, but with more detailed guidelines. The diet has several versions, that is, an original diet plan for the reduction of blood pressure, a plan for weight loss which advices against high-calorie intake and refined and processed foods, and a vegetarian diet plan for people who do not consume meat and meat products.

Major Benefits of the DASH Diet

As explained on Bistro MD, this diet is highly recommendable for people who want to keep their blood pressure under control as it is rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. What’s more, the diet limits the consumption of salt, which is also of great aid for hypertensive people. You may decide to follow this diet if your goal is to lose extra weight and this can be achieved with the decrease in calories and the increase in fiber. If you are struggling with high levels of bad cholesterol, this diet can help you regulate it with the help of the addition of fiber from oats and wheat products, that possess has proven cholesterol-reducing properties.

Disadvantages of the DASH Diet

As with almost every diet, the DASH diet also has its setbacks. Malia Frey claims that a lot of people decide to go with another diet and here are some of the main reasons why:

  • It is not primarily designed for weight loss purposes- as previously noted, though you can benefit from the calorie plan of the diet, the main focus is on blood pressure regulation.
  • Requires dedication, effort, and more free time on your hands- the diet promotes the homemade preparation of the meals, which can be an issue for busy people.

Final Thoughts on the Best Diets for 2018

All in all, both the Mediterranean and DASH diet have proven advantages and they deservingly share the 1st place for best overall diets currently. In addition to helping you shed additional pounds and maintain a healthy weight, these plans will significantly better your overall health and well-being by minimizing your risk of heart problems, cancer, and diabetes and by balancing your blood pressure, improving your overall mood, and minimizing stress.

If your primary goal is to lose weight and if precise measurements are not a concern for you, the Mediterranean diet can be an excellent choice. On the other hand, if your primary purpose is to stabilize your blood pressure and lower the levels of bad cholesterol with the help of precise guidelines, and stabilize your weight along the way, opt for the DASH diet.

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