A healthy diet is crucial to living a long and healthy life. It is no secret that a healthy diet can contribute to overall well-being.
Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets are known to help contribute to improved health and wellness.
The purpose of this article will be to compare the Mediterranean diet vs the DASH diet and contrast both of these powerhouse diets and see if either is right for you!
The basis of the Mediterranean diet consists of foods that people from the Mediterranean region including Italy, Spain, and Greece have eaten for centuries.
The diet focuses on plants, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, unsaturated fats and oils, legumes, nuts, and fish. It avoids foods such as red meat, butter, and sweets.
Studies consistently show an improvement in cardiovascular health when people follow this eating pattern. One study shows a reduction in cardiovascular risk of 25% in people following the Mediterranean diet.
A meta analysis from 2011 also showed that following the Mediterranean diet can be helpful for achieving weight loss, especially if it is combined with calorie restriction and moderate exercise.
The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and was developed by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute in 1997.
The DASH diet focuses on incorporating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat free or low fat dairy, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and seeds, and vegetable oils. It limits high fat meats, full fat dairy, sweets, and sodium.
As the name of the diet states, it helps to treat and prevent hypertension and heart disease. It also has shown to help with blood sugar management and weight management.
Similarities between Mediterranean diet and DASH diet
Both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet overwhelmingly focus on whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Because of this emphasis on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, there are many health benefits that have been associated with these diets.
Due to the emphasis on heart healthy foods there are cardiovascular benefits to following both diets. The unsaturated fats and fiber found in many of the foods can help to lower cholesterol levels. And, the reduction in processed foods and high sodium foods can help to improve blood pressure levels.
Both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet can help to manage weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Differences between Mediterranean diet and DASH diet
One key difference between both of these diets is the fact that the Mediterranean diet does not list a specific number of foods items from each food group that should be consumed each day, whereas the DASH diet does provide a guideline for quantities to be consumed from each major food group.
One of the major differences between the Mediterranean diet vs the DASH diet is the beliefs about dairy. The Mediterranean diet allows for the inclusion of dairy, while the DASH diet suggests only a modest amount of low fat or fat free dairy. Another difference is the belief on alcohol consumption. The Mediterranean diet encourages moderate red wine consumption (~2 per day), while the DASH diet does not specifically encourage or discourage alcohol consumption.
Choosing the Right Diet for You
When choosing a diet that is right for you, it is important to be mindful of your current diet and lifestyle factors. If your lifestyle leans more towards one diet over the other, it may be wise to stick to that one. It is far more effective to make small consistent changes instead of a complete diet overhaul.
As with starting any new diet, it is important to speak with your doctor or dietitian to see what is most appropriate for you.
Both of these diets are well-researched to provide positive health benefits. Therefore, if you can’t choose just one, you can incorporate some aspects of each into your diet!
In conclusion, both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet can provide dramatic health improvements.
What is important to remember is that the most successful dieters are the ones that are able to adapt to a new eating pattern and stick with it for the long term. Simply “going on a diet” just to eventually return to previous eating habits, will not help anything.
In conclusion, both of these diets can provide tremendous benefits. So whatever you choose, you are on your way to better health!
If you enjoyed reading this, be sure to check out some of my other articles here!