Some people choose to follow specific diets to improve their health. You might choose a particular diet because of your medical history, cultural background or personal preferences. Or your healthcare provider might suggest a specific diet to address a medical condition or concern.
A healthy diet truly benefits your overall well-being. It can:
- Lower cholesterol.
- Reduce blood pressure.
- Keep your weight at a healthy level.
- Control blood sugar.
- Lessen your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Here are four further specific diets that we recommend.
- DASH diet
- An eating plan proven to lower blood pressure.
- It combines healthy foods, reduced salt and increased physical activity.
- Vegetarian diet
- A plant-based diet that can lower your blood pressure, improve cholesterol, help you achieve a healthier weight and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Can also reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Mediterranean diet
- Reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's.
- Women who follow a Mediterranean diet (supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts) may have a reduced risk of breast cancer.
- MIND diet
- A hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets.
- Proven to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. Can also protect your heart health.
Even if you don’t follow a specific diet, you can still benefit from modest dietary changes.
- Eat more vegetables and fruit
They’re rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre.
They’re low in calories, fat and salt.
- Choose foods higher in fibre
The best sources of fibre are vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as lentils.
- Cut the salt
Reducing your salt intake can help reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease by at least 20%.
- Choose healthy fats
Saturated and trans fats raise cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats (found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils) decrease cholesterol.
- Cut the added sugar
There is no specific amount of sugar recommended as a part of a healthy diet.
No more than 10% of calories should come from added sugars. In a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, that is the equivalent of 48 grams or 12 teaspoons of sugar.
- Eat moderate portions
Fill a half of your plate with vegetables and fruit; a quarter with protein foods and a quarter with whole grains.
Make water your beverage of choice.
DASH stands for: Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension
The DASH diet may help lower your blood pressure (hypertension). It involves eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry and beans.
It works by controlling your intake of salt, fibre, calcium and potassium.
- In research studies, the DASH diet helped reduce blood pressure within two weeks of starting.
- Total cholesterol and "bad cholesterol" (LDL cholesterol) also went down.
- Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. – a decrease in blood pressure may reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 17% and stroke by up to 27%.
A decrease in blood pressure may reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 17% and stroke by up to 27%.
Cutting out saturated fats that are found in meat can help lower your cholesterol, maintain your weight and improve your health. Becoming a vegetarian is not easy; it is important to make sure you still get all the necessary nutrients from plant foods.
- Plant-based foods reduce the total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol found in many meat-based diets.
- A vegetarian diet can also give you more fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.
This diet focuses on the traditional foods and cooking styles of the countries along the Mediterranean. It incorporates:
- Healthy eating with an emphasis on fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains.
- Olive oil instead of butter or other fats.
- More herbs and less salt.
- Limited red meat.
- The occasional glass of red wine (if you drink alcohol)
Research shows that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have a reduced risk of heart disease and lower levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. It may also prevent other chronic illnesses.
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. In other words, food that’s good for your brain.
This diet includes a special emphasis on foods specifically linked to brain health, like leafy greens, berries, and nuts. It also limits your intake of red meat, cheese, and sweets.
Research shows that combining these nutritious foods can help reduce inflammation and preserve white matter in the brain. Here’s what that means.
- The MIND diet may reduce the rate of developing Alzheimer’s disease by more than 50%.
- Even those with modest adherence to the diet may see up to a 35% reduction in the rate of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- It may slow the overall rate of cognitive decline – the equivalent to taking 7½ years off your age.
Lower your blood pressure. Live longer.
High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke.
The first step to getting active is to think about what you like to do.