The DASH Diet

Diet trends change all the time. With the summer coming soon, most people are looking for the next best fad to get into shape. These are the current Top 5 diet trends:

1. The DASH Diet
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) aims to help lower blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure. It also helps with weight loss and promotes healthier lifestyles.

The diet focuses on the number of servings of particular food groups. It takes into account gender, age, and activity level as well as lowering sodium intake to calculate how many calories one should eat. The amount of calories one needs to consume is then further split into the various portions of food.

While the diet might seem like a lot of food, the plan is to reduce portion sizes. A typical day on the 1200 calorie diet could start off with an approximately 260 calorie breakfast like egg toast with salsa and a medium banana followed by a snack of cinnamon pears which are about 100 calories.

Then lunch could consist of 350 calories from a white bean & avocado salad. The afternoon snack could be a cup of raspberries which are about 64 calories followed by a stuffed sweet potato and a hummus dressing (412 calories) for dinner.

There are many free online sites that provide 7-day meal plans and recipes for the Dash Diet.
2. Mediterranean Diet
This diet is inspired by the Mediterranean lifestyle. It encourages eating less processed foods, less red meat, sugar, saturated fat. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of eating fresh produce and healthy fat.

The diet suggests following these rules:

Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
Moderately Eat: Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt.
Rarely Eat: Red meat.
Avoid: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils, and other highly processed foods.

Foods to avoid include:

Added sugar: Soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar, etc.
Refined grains: White bread, pasta made with refined wheat, etc.
Trans fats: Margarine and various processed foods.
Refined oils: Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, etc.
Processed meat: Sausages, hot dogs, polony, etc.
Highly processed foods: Foods labeled "low-fat" or "diet" or those which are made in a factory.

The Mediterranean diet is an eating pattern and lifestyle change. The focus is on physical exercise, eating more grains, fresh vegetables, and fruit.

It is easy to stick to and thus ensures results. To get started, many websites online offer guidelines, meal plans and recipe ideas for free.

3. Flexitarian Diet
The concept was founded and registered by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner. Flexitarian is the marriage of flexibility combined with a focus on a mostly vegetarian diet. It allows for the occasional steak or burger when the urge arises.

The diet claims to be the perfect way to lose weight.

A flexitarian sticks to a five-food group diet and they eat more tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, sugar, and spices.

The main premise is to eat more plant-based foods. It encourages healthy alternatives but allows for what individuals also enjoy in moderation.

An example of a day on the flexitarian diet includes:

Breakfast: Rolled oats with milk and berries
Lunch: Sandwich on wholegrain bread with egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, beetroot
Dinner: Roast vegetables with tofu and couscous
Snacks: Fruit, nuts, yogurt.

4. Weight Watchers Diet
The Weight Watchers regime works with a points-based system. It is designed to encourage dieters to stick to their goals and lose up to 2 pounds a week.

The plan does not rule out any foods however, the better one’s choices the lower one's points will be. The aim is to collect as little points per day because there are a finite number of points that one can use each day.

The official Weight Watcher’s site has a dedicated section to providing examples of meals and recipes that are acceptable on the plan. This even includes a delicious turkey burger with squash fries recipe. Members have access to over 4000 recipes and food ideas for the diet.

5. MIND Diet
The MIND diet focuses on brain health and relies, heavily, on scientific research. The diet combines elements from the DASH and Mediterranean diets. The combination resulted in the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) regime.

The main ideology behind the diet is to prevent Alzheimer's later on in life. It promotes eating ten brain healthy food groups such as Green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine every day.

The diet excludes or avoids five unhealthy food groups such as red meats, butter, and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries, and sweets, and fried or fast food. It stipulates eating at least three portions of whole grains, a salad, and another vegetable as well as suggesting a glass of wine a day.

The MIND diet is easily accessible and extremely popular online. There are numerous free resources, guidelines, and meal plans available.
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