Healthy Eating

Five Things You Need to Know About the DASH Diet


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Are you curious about the DASH Diet and if it is right for you? Below are five things you need to know about the DASH Diet to help you decide.

The DASH Diet was named the 2nd best diet by US News and World Report for 2019.

Every year, the US News and World Report ranks diets, and the DASH Diet is consistently ranked in the top spots, along with the Mediterranean Diet. In 2019, the DASH Diet was only surpassed by the Mediterranean Diet, and the DASH Diet had held the top spot for the previous eight years! The DASH Diet also ranked in the top three spots for “Best Diets for Healthy Eating,” “Best Diets for Diabetes,” and “Best Heart Healthy Diets.” The DASH Diet ranks so high because it is nutritionally complete and safe to follow, and has additional benefits including supporting heart health and preventing and controlling diabetes, And, while the DASH Diet is not technically a weight-loss diet, many who follow a calorie-restricted DASH Diet find they do lose weight.

The DASH Diet is a heart-healthy diet.

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The DASH Diet (or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertention) was originally created to help people lower their blood pressure and studies have shown that it does just that. In fact, doctors often recommend that their patients follow the DASH Diet to control high blood pressure. As well as controlling hypertension, studies have also shown that the DASH Diet increases good HDL cholesterol and lowers bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides which can help to lower the risk of heart disease. Foods which are known to control high blood pressure and support heart health, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, are emphasized on the diet. For women, the DASH Diet has been associated with a 20% reduced risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke.


The DASH Diet is easy to follow.

The DASH Diet allows all foods and can be adapted to suit most dietary preferences, including gluten-free, moderate-carb, kosher, halal, low salt, and vegan/vegetarian diets. No food group is off-limits, so you can choose from a wide variety of food, including sweets in small amounts, which can help to reduce cravings. In addition, the DASH Diet is a very safe diet to follow as there are no potential health risks identified in following the diet.

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The DASH Diet may help to prevent or control diabetes.

The DASH Diet ranked #2 in best diabetes diets because it follows nutritional guidelines recommended for diabetics. Combining the DASH Diet with calorie restriction can help with weight loss and help to control metabolic syndrome. The DASH Diet has also been shown to help control blood sugar levels.

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The DASH Diet limits salt intake.

For those who love their salt, this may be the most difficult aspect of the DASH Diet. Limiting salt intake can be important for controlling high blood pressure, which was the original purpose of the DASH Diet. The DASH Diet limits salt intake to 3/4 teaspoon daily. Some studies have found that reducing salt intake to the level recommended in the DASH Diet is not necessary; however, most people can benefit from reducing their salt intake from processed foods. Many find that once their palates adjust to a lower salt intake, they enjoy the varying flavors of food, especially when enhanced with other herbs and seasonings.

Key Takeaways:

  • The DASH Diet is a nutritionally complete, safe, and well-researched diet

  • The DASH Diet is proven to reduce high blood pressure and support heart health

  • The DASH Diet can prevent and control diabetes

  • The DASH Diet is easy to follow and adaptable to many different ways of eating

  • The DASH Diet is a low-salt diet

Study Finds Low Carb and High Carb Diets Both Increase Risk of Mortality

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A new study published in The Lancet on August 16, 2018 shows that both low carbohydrate diets and high carbohydrates are associated with increased risk of death, where a moderate carbohydrate diet provides the greatest benefit to longevity.

The study looked at death from all causes in a study group of 15,000 people between the ages of 45 years and 64 years (midlife) from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in four communities in the United States.  These study participants completed surveys related to their dietary habits and were then followed by researchers for 25 years.  

From age 50 on, the researchers found that those study participants who ate a diet with moderate carbohydrate intake, defined as 50-55% of their daily energy provided by carbohydrates, lived an average additional 33 years.

Study participants who ate a low carbohydrate diet, with less than 40% of their energy coming from carbohydrates, lived an average additional 29 years.  Participants who ate a high carbohydrate diet of over 70% of their diet consisting of carbohydrate, lived an additional 32 years.

The researchers also found that all low carbohydrate diets are not created equal.  Those low carbohydrate diets that were high in animal protein and fat had a higher risk of death.  Low carbohydrate diets that were high in plant based proteins and fats had a lower risk of death, as well as a lower risk of death specifically from cardiovascular disease.  The study states:

Long-term effects of a low carbohydrate diet with typically low plant and increased animal protein and fat consumption have been hypothesised to stimulate inflammatory pathways, biological ageing, and oxidative stress
— Seidelmann, et al

The researchers compared their results from this study to results from seven other studies conducted in North America, Europe, and Asia, with similar results.  The study concludes that a diet consisting of moderate carbohydrate intake is best for healthy aging.

While the study did not examine the quality of carbohydrates consumed by study participants, other studies have shown that complex carbohydrates with higher fiber and nutrient content are part of a healthy diet.  This study does lend weight to the idea that going to extremes with low-carb dieting is not the best long-term answer to improving your health any more than carbohydrate overloading is healthy.

Here at Yes I Can Health, I advocate safe, proven strategies to improve your lifelong wellness through changing habits and creating balance.

One habit to develop is simply eating more vegetables and fruits in your daily diet.  This study did indeed show that those participants who ate more plant based foods, whether low carb, moderate carb, or high carb, had longer lifespans and lower risk of death, as well as lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.  

If you would like to learn how to add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet, I encourage you to sign up for the Bunny Trail Virtual Challenge!

Healthy Turkey and Cauliflower Rice Taco Salad

I do love a good taco salad, and this version has all the ingredients you need for a healthy dose of vegetables and fruits, lean protein, and heart-healthy fat, all in a low-carb dish that is delicious.  As always, adjust seasonings to suit your taste, and limit salt if you are on a low-sodium diet.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey

1 onion

1 tbsp minced garlic (more if you like)

2 sweet peppers

2 jalapeno peppers (optional if you like a little heat)

1 bag frozen riced cauliflower, or 1 head of fresh cauliflower grated finely

3/4 cup frozen corn

1 tsp cumin

1-2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

salad greens

sour cream (optional)

grated cheddar cheese (optional)

cilantro, chopped  (optional)

Salsa (optional)

Diced tomatos (optional)

Sliced avocado (optional)

1 tbsp olive or avocado oil

Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Chop onion and peppers and saute in oil  on medium high heat until soft.  Add garlic and seasonings.  Add turkey and cook until browned, breaking up the meat until crumbly, 4-5 minutes.  Add the cauliflower and saute until cooked through, approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the corn and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

To serve, place the salad greens on a plate.  Spoon over the turkey mixture.  Top as desired with salsa, diced tomatos, grated cheese, cilantro, sliced avocado, and sour cream.

You're Not Eating Enough Vegetables and Fruit

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According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, women over 31 years old should consume 1-1/2 cups of fruit a day.  Women between the ages of 31 - 50 should eat at least 2-1/2 cups of vegetables a day and women ages 51 and over should eat 2 cups of vegetables a day.  If you are more than moderately active, you can consume even more.  But unless you are a vegetarian or eating a primarily plant-based diet, you are probably not eating enough vegetables or fruit.

A study conducted during 2007 and 2010 found that half of the total U.S. population consumed less than 1 cup of fruit and less than 1.5 cups of vegetables daily; 76% did not meet fruit intake recommendations, and 87% did not meet vegetable intake recommendations.

In 2015, the CDC reports, less than 13% of adults overall consumed the recommended amount of fruit and less than 10% consumed the recommended amount of vegetables. 

Most of us know that we need to eat vegetables and fruit to be healthy.  We know that eating more vegetables and fruits can help us to lose weight, improve our heart health, and prevent chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and some cancers.  We know that vegetables and fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are good for us. 

So why aren't we eating our fruits and vegetables?  Here are some of the most common reasons I gleaned from an informal survey of women over 50:

1.  We believe that vegetables and fruits are expensive.  Women and families living on a fixed income may not have enough to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables as opposed to cheaper processed foods with lower nutritional value.

2.  We are living busy lives and we believe that we don't have time to prepare them.  Women working full time jobs and caring for families believe they don't have the time, energy, or motivation to prepare a full meal that includes fruits and vegetables.

3.  We prefer food that is convenient, quick, and easy.  We want foods we can grab and go or eat on the run, and we think that fruits and vegetables aren't as convenient, quick and easy and processed or fast foods.

4.  We believe we don't like the taste or we don't know how to prepare vegetables and fruits.  We have preconceived notions about whether we will like certain fruits and vegetables, often based on what we ate as a child.

5.  We don't want to be wasteful.  If we buy fresh fruits or vegetables and don't use them, they will go bad and we will just have to throw them out.

6.  We don't sit down to meals anymore and so we don't prepare full course meals.  Because of our busy lives and need to eat "on the go", we often lack the structure and pre-planning to prepare real food that we sit down with our families to eat.

7.  We live in food deserts where fresh fruits and vegetables simply aren't readily available.  Whether it is in downtown areas in big cities or small out of the way rural towns and villages, many women live in areas where a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (or even canned or frozen fruits and vegetables) just isn't available.  They would like to eat healthier but their options are limited.

8.  We believe we are eating healthy, even when we're not.  We often think that the food choices we make are healthy, but either our portion sizes are too large or we are choosing unhealthy dietary options (or too much of unhealthy dietary options).  We have a disconnect between what we believe we are eating and what we are actually consuming.

9.  Chronic illness may limit what we are able to eat.  Some women feel they have to limit fruit or vegetable intake because of illnesses such as diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome.

Eating enough fruits and vegetables each day requires effort and mindfulness and a desire to improve our health.  We have to be intentional about making sure we eat them in the first place.  We have to learn how to prepare them so that they are tasty and appealing.  We have to set aside the time and plan ahead.  We have to work out our budget so that we can afford healthy foods or we may have to locate a source of fruits and vegetables.  We may have to work with a physician or nutritionist to determine what we can eat and how much.  

Do you eat enough fruits and vegetables each day?  If not, why not?  Are you interested in learning how to improve your consumption of fruits and vegetables to improve your health?  

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In this 30-level challenge, you will learn why it is important to include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, and how to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. This challenge is easy and fun, packed with daily lessons, mini-challenges, and quizzes.

Fast and Easy Vegetable Soup

Sometimes, there is just nothing more comforting and nourishing than a bowl of soup.  Vegetable soup is a fantastic way to increase the amount of vegetables you eat, and you can use fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables to take advantage of seasonal produce or what you have stored.

Here is a simple recipe for vegetable soup that uses a mix of canned and frozen produce, but feel free to substitute fresh produce if you have it available:

Ingredients:

  • Organic vegetable broth
  • 1 can diced organic tomatos
  • 1 bag of organic frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

In large saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, celery and garlic until soft.  Add seasonings, broth, tomatos, and vegetables.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to simmer until vegetables are soft and heated through - about 20 minutes.

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