Mixed and balanced diets are healthier variations of the typical American or Western
diets consumed in the U.S. and other developed countries. They include both
plant and animal food but are modified with the goal of improving health, especially
by the prevention of CVDs. They generally conform to the healthier diets
recommended by nutrition experts. They are promoted in the 2015-2020 Dietary
Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Recommendations of the World Health
They have been studied in federally funded intervention trials supported by the U.S.
National Institutes of Health. Among these interventions are the Dietary Approaches
to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, the MIND diet, the Diabetes Prevention Program
(DPP), the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health (OmniHeart)
diet, and the low saturated fat Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet (TLC) created by
the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan was designed
20 years ago, to be low in sodium and to increase the intake of healthy foods with
the main goal of lowering blood pressure. In addition to lowering blood pressure,
the DASH diet also lowers LDL-C and reduces cardiovascular disease. The DASH
Eating Plan is mostly plant-based, with small amounts of both animal and dairy
products. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and non-fat and low-fat
dairy products; it includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts; and it is low in red
meat, sweets, and sugar-sweetened beverages. The DASH diet is much lower in sodium
than the typical American diet and includes menus with two levels of sodium,
2,300, and 1,500 mg per day.
The original DASH diet was relatively low in total fat (27% of calories) and higher
(55% of calories) in carbohydrate. The OmniHeart study compared the effects of
three modified DASH diets, each of which lowered blood pressure and improved
blood lipids. One of the three OmniHeart diets emphasized carbohydrates (increased
from 48% to 58% of total calories), another diet emphasized protein (increased
from 15% to 25% of total calories), and the third emphasized unsaturated
fat; with monounsaturated fat increased from 13% to 21%, and total fat increased
from 27% to 35% of total calories. The study findings showed that the protein-rich
and the unsaturated fat-rich diets provided additional benefits on blood pressure
and blood lipids and further reduced the estimated ten-year risk of heart disease
more than did the carbohydrate-rich diet. So in controlled feeding trials, each of the
several modified DASH diets was found to significantly lower blood pressure and
improve blood lipids compared with usual Western diets. The DASH
diet also reduces the risk of gout and chronic kidney disease.
The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is a fairly similar diet, again emphasizing
a mix of foods—especially plant foods and select, mostly lean animal foods—and
restrictions on refined starch and added sugar. In combination with routine, moderate
physical activity, and associated weight loss, the DPP diet was associated with a
58% reduction in incident diabetes in adults at high risk.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.