There are no shortage of books and websites devoted to eating healthier. Keep in mind that the experts say that a healthy eating plan is one that includes a wide variety of foods from all of the food groups. This is how you get that good for you balance of carbs, protein and fat, plus essential vitamins, minerals and fiber too. It sounds simple, but clearly it isn’t… you can’t eat healthy if the foods lack flavor, the plan is hard to follow or the diet just costs more than you can spend.
The good news is that Consumer Reports conducted a review of the pros and cons of five very popular eating plans and laid everything out for you. Here’s the scoop:
1: DASH incorporates fresh foods and limits fat, sodium and sugar. It’s known to be good for your heart, and is loaded with veggies, fruit, whole grains and no fat or low fat dairy along with lean protein. As you might expect, saturated fat is restricted, as are added sugars and salt. This diet is plenty nutritious, meeting the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Pros: DASH is backed by ample, solid research that shows it can bring down blood pressure, and LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. Things still taste good.
Cons: DASH portions need to be very carefully monitored, and keeping to that under 1,500 milligrams a day of sodium can be tough for some.
2: Mediterranean includes good for you meals eaten with family, friends… and wine. A good way to see if a food would be allowed under a Mediterranean meal plan is to ask if your great grandmother would recognize the item. If she would, then it’s likely on the plan. This means fresh fruit, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, healthy fats (from canola or olive oil) and seafood at least twice per week. Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt are eaten in moderation and both sweets and red meat no more than a few times each month.
Pros: The Mediterranean diet is also research backed, and has been found to cut the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.
Cons: You need to work out your own Mediterranean menu, and what you’ll do to stay active. This plan is a lifestyle more than a diet plan.
3: Paleo is considered a meat lovers dream, meaning that if cave people didn’t eat it, you can’t either. You can have lean meat, fish, seafood, fruit and non-starchy veggies. You stay away from cereal grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods. In truth, proceed here with caution say the experts.
Pros: The plan is low in salt and sugar, and the emphasis is on fruit and veggies, so you easily meet your goals for dietary fiber.
Cons: Getting the recommended amount of some nutrients is hard, and anyone following this plan runs the risk of nutrient deficiencies as whole food groups are eliminated.
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Popular Diet Plans : Pros and Cons Continued…
4: Vegetarian diets are plant based and the term is often used to describe any plan that doesn’t allow meat, chicken or seafood. The good news is that if you’re serious about adopting this way of eating, a well-planned diet can have just as many health benefits as any other eating plan.
Pros: Studies, including one appearing this past June, have found that following a vegetarian diet can help bring down cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Cons: Menu options are limited when you eat out, and meeting your recommended daily allowance of some vitamins can be tricky. You might bulk up on the many starches you can eat.
5: Volumetrics is based on the feelings of satiety (fullness) you get at the end of a meal, and how this impacts hunger and eating behavior. The staples of this plan are water rich foods (broth soups, fruit, veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean meats, fish) to fill you up and do so with fewer calories.
Pros: This eating pattern is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Meals are filling and nothing is forbidden.
Cons: If you don’t like to cook, meal preparation under this plan can take some time and effort.
To your good health,