by Tracy Rohland

The latest news on healthy eating is related to the government-recommended DASH diet. DASH: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was developed by the U.S. National Institute of Health to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and improve insulin sensitivity. The diet promotes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and plant-based protein over meat. Recent studies have shown that people following this diet greatly reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. The benefits of this type of diet however, do not stop at simply reducing the risk of life-threatening conditions. A wholesome, plant-based diet is the ideal regimen for all who are interested in maintaining the health of their body.

Following are some tips for adopting a plant-based diet:

  • Enjoy whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat berries, oats, buckwheat, rye and so on. Stone ground bread, sprouted bread, white rice, and pasta are fine in moderation, but the less refined the grain is, the better.
  • Luxuriate in a variety of vegetables. Fresh vegetables are ideal, but frozen and canned varieties work well when there just isn’t time to prepare fresh produce.
  • Include a variety of protein-rich legumes such as beans, lentils and tofu.
  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are excellent snacks or additions to a meal. Soak nuts in water overnight to further increase their healthful properties.
  • Fresh fruit is loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. But should be eaten in moderation as fruits are high in sugar and can negatively affect blood sugar.

Our Down to Earth Community Outreach Team is here to assist people in making the move towards a plant-based diet. We offer vegetarian nutrition classes, cooking classes, store tours, and can provide answers to any questions you may have along the way. The key is to go at your own pace. Even if a quarter of your diet is improved, it’s still a big step and will help as you move forward.