Your Best Diet Bets for 2015

January 22, 2015 by  
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It’s mid-January, which means many people’s New Years Resolutions to lose weight are probably already out the window.

But if you’re still on the weight loss bandwagon, US News and World Report recently published their Best Diets for 2015. As part of this annual review, 35 diets were evaluated and ranked by a panel of health experts.

Diets were rated on their ease of implementation, nutrition quality, safety, and effectiveness, as well as their ability to prevent diabetes and heart disease.

Here is a rundown of the top 5:

  1. The DASH Diet – DASH stands for the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet was developed to help treat high blood pressure and to prevent against heart disease and stroke. The diet promotes ample fruit and vegetable intake, whole grains, and lean poultry, fish, and low fat dairy, while cutting back on sodium. To get started: choose lean poultry and fish as your main protein options, ditch the salt and use herbs and spices to season your foods while loading up on veggies, whole grains, and have fruit for dessert.
  2. TLC Diet – TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes. The TLC diet claims to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol by 8-10 percent in 6 weeks. The TLC diet cuts back on saturated fat and limits fatty meat, full fat dairy products, and fried foods. To get started: take the skin off of your poultry and include plenty of fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks.
  3. (tie) Mayo Clinic Diet: the Mayo Clinic diet promotes gradual weight loss, claiming that you’ll shed 6-10 pounds in 2 weeks and continue losing 1-2 pounds per week until you have reached your goal weight> Snacking on fruits and vegetables is encouraged while also promoting mindful eating, such as avoiding eating while watching TV.  To get started: cut out sugar for the first 2 weeks, incorporate sweets only sparingly thereafter, and create your customized diet plan with Mayo Clinic’s food pyramid.
  4. (tie) Mediterranean Diet: this well-known diet promotes long-term weight loss success, heart and brain health, cancer prevention and diabetes prevention and control. The diet encourages an active lifestyle, a diet low in red meat, sugar, and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts, and other whole foods. To get started: build meals around whole grains and veggies, have a small glass of red wine with dinner, and eat red meat no more than a few times per month.
  5. (tie) Weight Watchers Diet: Centered on weight loss, the Weight Watchers diet claims you’ll drop up to 2 pounds per week using their point system for foods. Choices that are high in fiber and are more nutrient dense have lower point values. The idea behind the diet is to encourage healthful foods that keep you feeling fuller for longer. To get started: snack on high fiber foods to stay satisfied and sign up with Weight Watchers online.

Remember that the key to weight loss success and health is to make a lifestyle change that you can stick with. A healthy diet and lifestyle includes incorporating exercise into your daily routine, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, eating mostly whole grains, choosing lean protein and low fat dairy products, and enjoying saturated fat and high sugar content foods in moderation.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.

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The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) are Federal guidelines intended for all Americans 2 years and older on healthy eating and physical activity. The DGA is based on the most current research and is reviewed, updated and published every 5 years in a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made up of health and nutrition experts.

The new guidelines will affect federal school lunches, food labels, and a number of federal funded community programs. Both consumers and health professionals use the guidelines for consistent dietary recommendations based on evidenced based research.

The final draft has not yet been published, however here are the proposed changes to look out for in the new guidelines:

  1. The guidelines will be based on the new MyPlate icon, which replaced the Food Pyramid a few years ago.
  2. There have never been limits or recommended allowances for sugar consumption, however the new 2015 guidelines may now include specific limits on added sugars that will be added to nutrition facts labels. The proposed recommendations advise that 10% of caloric intake come from added sugars, which equates to about 50 grams of sugar a day for the average person.
  3. The 2010 guidelines already recommend choosing lean cuts of meat and consuming a variety of types of protein. However, the 2015 guidelines propose to not only choose lean cuts of meat but to consume fewer red and processed types of meat.
  4. The current 2010 guidelines recommend that pregnant women avoid caffeine all together, however the new 2015 guidelines propose that caffeine intake be less than 200 milligrams a day, which equates to about 2 cups a day.
  5. A note on sustainability may be added to the new guidelines as well. A plant-based diet, which is good for both your health and the environment, will be recommended in the new 2015 guidelines.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans remain the most current guidelines and the revised 2015 guidelines remains in the process of being finalized. You can view the current 2010 guidelines and check the progress of the new 2015 guidelines at: www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.

Fighting Inflammation with Anti-Inflammatory Foods

anti-inflammatory foods

With the new year upon us, many people are looking to exclude unhealthful foods. But this year, why not try a healthy twist – and focus on more foods you CAN include?

One area where you can make small inroads into health and wellness is through the inclusion of more anti-inflammatory foods.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a part of the body’s natural immune response to heal itself from an injury. However chronic inflammation in the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause pain, fatigue and damage to blood vessels. According to the American Heart Association, people with heart disease often have markers for inflammation.

What Foods are Pro-Inflammatory?

Many foods found in the typical American diet, such as foods high in sugar, saturated and trans fat can promote inflammation in the body. High fat animal foods and packaged and processed foods with lots of added sugars may convey an inflammatory effect.

So how do we protect ourselves against chronic inflammation? By eating a diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats, we can provide anti-inflammatory properties and protect our bodies from the harmful effects of inflammation.

Top Seven Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Incorporating foods known to have anti-inflammatory properties into your regular diet plan can be both easy and delicious! Here are seven foods to try today:

  1. Fatty fish: Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Aim to eat baked or broiled fish twice a week to get the maximum anti-inflammatory benefits. Don’t eat fish? Consider taking a daily fish oil supplement for the same benefits.
  2. Whole grains: Consuming mostly whole grains, such as whole-wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice is a great way to reduce inflammation because it is packed with fiber. Try eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and switching to whole wheat bread versus refined white bread. Be sure to check that whole grain is the first ingredient in the product.
  3. Dark leafy greens: Studies have shown that consuming foods rich in Vitamin E, which is found in dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens protect the body from pro-inflammatory molecules. Add dark leafy greens to soups and stews or make a green smoothie for easy ways to sneak greens into your diet.
  4. Nuts: heart healthy nuts, such as almonds and walnuts are packed with antioxidants shown to protect against heart disease and inflammation. Take a handful of nuts to work or school as a heart healthy mid afternoon snack.
  5. Red tomatoes: lycopene, an antioxidant compound that gives tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables their
    bright red color, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the lungs and throughout the body. Also, cooked tomatoes contain even higher amounts of lycopene than raw. Pour cooked tomato sauce over pasta for a quick dinner packed with antioxidants!
  6. Olive oil: widely known as a staple in the Mediterranean diet, extra-virgin olive oil, has been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and anti-inflammatory properties. Mix with vinegar to make a quick vinaigrette or use for sauteéing vegetables on low heat.
  7. Berries: raspberries, blueberries and strawberries among other berries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Add fresh berries to yogurt or cereal for a quick breakfast or buy frozen and use to make a berry smoothie.

The bottom line:

 There is limited research on specific foods and their anti-inflammatory effects, so be aware of “super foods” marketed as one-food wonders. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and heart healthy fats is the best way to protect the body against the effects of chronic inflammation and promote overall health. Lifestyle factors including regular exercise and adequate sleep will also protect against chronic inflammation along with a healthy diet.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.