Feeling hungry? Dash on over to the Mediterranean Café for a bowl of TLC.
There probably is a restaurant called the Mediterranean Café somewhere in the world, and maybe they actually serve a dish called TLC. In reality, I made it up as a way to highlight three evidence-based diets known for their health benefits. I’m referring to the DASH, the Mediterranean and the TLC.
Here’s a bite-size description of each.
A recent issue of US News and World Report shared the findings of a panel of health experts who analyzed 35 of the most popular diets in America. The diet rated “Best Overall” was the DASH diet. DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a lifelong approach to healthy eating designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). Developed in part by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the plan consists of eating a combination of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy plus nuts and seeds. These nutrient-rich foods contain generous amounts of magnesium, calcium and potassium known to reduce high blood pressure. Recent research also suggests the DASH diet supports heart health and helps prevent diabetes and some cancers.
Health experts also give high marks to the Mediterranean diet, a flavorful eating plan, rich in plants and olive oil and low in animal protein. This traditional style of eating, which originated in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, is a health rock star known for its abilities to prevent or manage chronic conditions including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil and flavorful herbs and spices top the menu. Fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, cheese, yogurt and red wine are in the “In Moderation” section. Sweets and red meat are on the “Special Occasions Only” menu.
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Experts also like the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Change) diet, which research shows can lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. This lifestyle-change program — created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program — teaches people how to lower their blood cholesterol and reduce risks for heart disease by eating healthy, well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, losing weight and not smoking.
The eating plan slashes intake of foods high in saturated fats and trans fats (processed and fried food, red meat, high fat dairy), and replaces them with moderate amounts of healthier fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil), which can lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise your HDL (“good”) cholesterol. TLC is endorsed by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy regimen.
To learn more about the ins and outs of these and other evidence-based diets, register for one of the nutrition-related class at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, or schedule an individual consultation. Hungry for a healthier way of eating? Call us at 623-832-WELL (9355).
Tracy Garrett is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing in Surprise.