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Whole Grain Benefits

What Is It, Meal Plans and Recipes – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic



Lots of diet plans have come and gone (cabbage soup diet, anyone?) – but DASH is here to stay. The DASH eating plan (or DASH diet) has been around for decades because it has solid scientific evidence that it works.

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With nutritionist Kate Patton, Med, RD, CSSD, LD, dive into what the DASH diet is and how you can use it to improve your health.

What is the DASH Diet?

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This nutrition plan is designed to reduce the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure). High blood pressure affects 1 in 3 adults in the US and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

If you follow the DASH diet, you will consume more potassium – a heart-healthy mineral. You also consume less sodium, which can help lower your blood pressure and improve heart health.

The benefits of DASH are well documented. Several studies have found that people who follow DASH can lower their blood pressure in just a few weeks, Patton says.

But it’s not just about improving blood pressure. The DASH diet can help you lose excess weight and reduce your risk of certain health problems. Research has shown that following DASH can lower your risk of:

The best thing about the DASH diet? It’s flexible. “It doesn’t require any special foods and you don’t have to go hungry or go without goodies,” notes Patton. Instead, DASH recommends incorporating heart-healthy foods into your everyday life.

Eat on DASH

The DASH diet focuses on heart healthy foods that you can find at your grocery store. These foods are naturally high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They’re also low in sodium.

If you are following the DASH diet, you will be eating a lot of:

  • Fruit.
  • Vegetables.
  • Full grain.
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes.
  • Low fat dairy products.

Food to be minimized on DASH

DASH also encourages you to cut down on foods that can increase your blood pressure. These include:

  • Fatty meats, such as red meat and skin-on poultry.
  • Full fat dairy products like whole milk, cream, and butter.
  • Oils that are solid at room temperature, such as coconut and palm oils.
  • High-sugar foods like sweets, baked goods, and desserts.
  • High sugar drinks like soda, juice, and sweetened coffee or tea.

If you follow DASH, you don’t have to eliminate these foods, Patton says. Instead, take steps towards making healthier choices every day. The plan will be easier to stick to. For example, consider replacing a meat starter with a meatless option once a week.

Most Americans eat more meat than necessary at the expense of their vegetable intake. DASH recommends consuming no more than 6 ounces of meat per day. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables that contain disease-fighting antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients.

DASH sodium limits

Many Americans eat too much sodium (salt). And a diet high in sodium can increase blood pressure and your risk of heart disease.

The standard DASH diet limits sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. However, if you want stronger results, choose the DASH low-sodium diet. On this plan, you aim for 1,500 milligrams of sodium or less per day.

The DASH combination of nutrient-rich foods and lower sodium intake has a proven effect on blood pressure. Several studies have found that following the DASH diet lowers blood pressure quickly – in just two weeks.

Ways To Reduce Sodium

Most of the sodium that people consume doesn’t come from the salt shaker. “Processed and packaged foods are often high in salt, even if they don’t taste salty,” says Patton. Restaurant and snack foods can also be very high in sodium.

If you follow DASH, read the food labels for sodium levels and keep track of how much you eat. When eating out, try these tips to reduce sodium:

  • Ask about the sodium content of food when it is available. Ask that your food be prepared without the addition of salt, MSG, or salty spices.
  • Limit, skip, or ask about sauces and condiments that tend to be high in salt.
  • Look for words that indicate high sodium content: smoked, cured, pickled, soy sauce, and broth.
  • Choose fruit and vegetables as a side dish instead of salty snacks like chips or fries.

DASH diet for weight loss

If you follow the DASH meal plan, you will likely lose pounds. Combine the DASH diet with calorie restriction if you want to lose more weight. Find out how many calories to eat based on your age and activity level. Keep track of your calorie intake and gradually reduce it.

But don’t go to extremes, warns Patton. “If you try to cut calories quickly and drastically, you will likely feel hungry and tired,” she says.

If you need help creating your weight loss plan, speak to your doctor. Your doctor can help you get started or refer you to a nutritionist or dietitian.

DASH diet meal planning

A DASH diet meal plan can look different for everyone. The key is to highlight healthy foods and set aside less healthy foods, Patton says.

When you go to the grocery store, fill your shopping cart with whole foods and choose low-sodium options in boxes, bags, or canned foods. For example, instant or quick cook oats in the canister contain zero milligrams of sodium, but instant oatmeal packets contain sodium.

Beans are also an important part of the DASH diet. If you don’t have time to prepare dry beans, canned beans are a great alternative. However, look for versions with no added salt and rinse them off.

Base your meals on foods that you like and that fit into the DASH plan. Don’t like green peppers? Instead, enjoy red peppers, celery, or carrots. Make your favorite pan, but use less salt, add more vegetables, and swap whole brown rice for white rice.

DASH diet recipes

Take recipes you already love and make them DASH friendly by:

  • Lowering salt levels by skipping the salt shaker and cutting back high-sodium sauces.
  • Add more vegetables and fruits to your recipe.
  • Cut down on meat or choose skinned lean meat.
  • Replacing butter or solid oils with unsaturated oils such as olive, canola or avocado oil.
  • Exchange of processed white bread and cereals for whole grain products.

Looking for inspiration? There are plenty of DASH-friendly recipes to discover. These delicious recipes contain higher amounts of fruits and vegetables that are low in saturated fat and sodium.

DASH breakfast recipes

Get the day off to a good start with a nutritious breakfast:

DASH lunch recipes

Skip the afternoon dip by stocking up on nutritious foods on your lunch break:

DASH dinner recipes

These recipes will help keep dinner simple and healthy after a long day:

Pairing exercise with DASH

If you’re looking to increase your weight loss and health benefits, combine the DASH plan with more exercise and activity, Patton says.

This doesn’t mean you have to join a gym or start a hard workout. Instead, try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Hiking, biking, and swimming are good options. And you don’t have to do it all at once. Divide it into two 15-minute pieces or three 10-minute pieces.

Exercise at moderate intensity for 60 minutes five days a week will improve your health even further. Moderate intensity means that your heart rate is about 50% higher than your resting heart rate. There are endless options for moderately vigorous exercise, from a brisk walk to swimming laps or playing basketball.

Other lifestyle changes to consider

These steps can also improve your heart health:

  • Limit alcohol consumption: If you drink, limit it to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
  • Do not smoke: If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do, try to quit. Ask your doctor if you need help stopping.
  • Getting enough sleep: Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Gradual change is powerful

You don’t have to follow DASH perfectly to reap the benefits. “Take small steps towards a healthier diet every day,” says Patton. “Over time, you will feel better and lose weight, which can motivate you to keep going.”

The flexibility of DASH adapts to your taste and lifestyle. And that will help you stick with it in the long term.

Whole Grain Benefits

Running 3 Miles a Day: Benefits and Starting Out



No matter where it is on your list of favorite exercises, running is a great way to get in shape and meet fitness goals.

But if you’re not a marathon runner, you’re probably looking for a distance that is achievable without missing that window of effectiveness. 3 miles a day can be considered a nice sweet spot, even for moderate runners.

Here’s a look at the potential benefits of a regular running routine and what 3 miles a day can bring you.

Even if you HATE running, you have to admit that there are some nice benefits to it.

Cardio endurance

Running is a top class cardiovascular endurance activity. It helps you maintain increased breathing and heart rate for an extended period of time. Over time, this can increase endurance, reduce fatigue, and improve heart and lung function.

Also, there is a chance that running with the Reg can extend your lifespan. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. According to a 2015 study, running for 5 to 10 minutes a day is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death. So making a habit of 3 miles a day can’t hurt if you are able to.

Strength training

Cardio gets a lot of recognition, but running also offers restorative benefits. It activates a whole host of leg muscles, including your quads, hamstrings, and calves. You will also feel the burning sensation in your buttocks, back and stomach.

You should also consider adding some resistance training to your workout. Research has shown that it can help improve your running performance and reduce your risk of injury. So it should gradually get easier to do your 3 miles every day.

Strengthens the bones (maybe)

Running is a stress exercise, which means it can help bone health. According to a 2019 study, running is more effective than walking for increasing bone density in healthy adults and children. But we definitely need more research to prove this 10/10.

Basically, your 3 miles a day can put real strain on your bones to promote strength.

Burns calories

Running is a super effective way to burn calories. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 154-pound person burns about 295 calories if they jog at 5 mph for 30 minutes. A very general rule is that you are burning around 100 calories per mile. However, the exact amount of calories burned depends on:

All terrain containers affect the amount of calories you burn on your runs. In general, you burn more calories on harder terrain than on clean, flat surfaces due to the amount of energy you have to exert. Your joints and muscles work extra hard to keep your body upright and in balance.

The incline is also very important. According to a 2018 study, walking on an incline promotes peroneal strength, which could help with weaker ankles. You can also burn more calories while walking uphill.

Dwight Schrute says, “If you want to win, you have to fuel up like a winner.” And NGL, Dwight is right. If you stay hydrated and keep track of your diet, you can get the most out of your runs.

Before your run

Try to have a balanced meal 3 to 4 hours before your 5 mile run. The ideal meal should be high in carbohydrates, low in protein, and low in fat. By the way, the ACSM recommends drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water with this meal. But you might want to drink more when it’s super hot outside.

Snack attack: You should have a snack about 30 minutes before your run. Just be sure to keep it small to avoid indigestion or nausea. A banana, peanut butter crackers, or half an energy bar are good choices.

During your run

Studies show that your glycogen stores can be depleted within 1 to 2 hours of running. For longer runs, you should refuel with snacks such as energy drinks, protein bars, energy gels, nuts or dried fruits.

Since your run is 3 miles long, you should have a good idea of ​​how much fuel you are using pretty quickly. But no matter how long your run is, always stay hydrated during your workout. Dehydration is not a joke!

After your run

Post-workout diet is critical to recovery and results. A mix of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins is best. Here are a few delicious examples:

One of the greatest advantages of running is that you don’t need fancy gear. But you still have to equip yourself.

Your ongoing shopping list should include:

Running off the beaten track should always have a way to get in touch with someone in an emergency. To be on the safe side, you should also have a portable GPS tracker and whistle with you. For more information, see our guide to trail running.

SPF PSA: Don’t forget sunscreen (even on cloudy days)!

Running 3 miles in the regatta is a great way to burn calories. It will also help you increase your strength and cardiovascular endurance. Keep in mind that it can take you some time to develop enough stamina to hit the 3 mile mark. So be patient with the process and stick with it. You can do it.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Should You Eat or Avoid Peanut Butter Before Bed?



If you’re craving a midnight snack, peanut butter is a tempting choice because of its rich taste, creamy texture, and sweet and salty taste.

Thanks to its impressive nutritional profile, some health advocates recommend eating peanut butter at night to support muscle growth, stabilize blood sugar levels, and improve the quality of sleep.

However, it is also high in calories per serving, so you might be wondering if consuming this filling food before bed leads to weight gain.

This article explains whether eating peanut butter before bed leads to weight gain.

Peanut butter is a high-calorie food that is high in heart-healthy fats. Just 2 tablespoons (32 grams) provides 204 calories and 16 grams of fat (1, 2).

Therefore, it is a great food item for a healthy balanced diet, but large amounts can increase your daily caloric intake. If you eat more calories during the day than you burn, you can gain weight in the long run (3).

Even so, weight gain depends on many factors including age, height, activity level, health status, and total caloric intake.

In fact, you can eat peanut butter as part of a diet for either weight loss or weight gain, depending on what else you eat during the day.


Peanut butter is high in heart-healthy fats and calories, which means overeating before bed can lead to weight gain.

Research into the relationship between eating late and weight gain has produced mixed results.

Weight gain possible

Some studies suggest that eating large amounts of food late at night interferes with weight loss and increases body weight. However, other factors may also play a role, including overall diet quality, how long you sleep, and other habits such as skipping breakfast (4, 5, 6).

On the flip side, some research suggests that eating at night may not directly lead to weight gain, but may be linked to eating habits and lifestyle behaviors that contribute to weight gain, including increased snacks, skipped breakfast, and decreased dietary diversity (7, 8, 9.). ).

Benefits for muscle growth and metabolism

Interestingly, several studies have found that consuming a healthy snack like peanut butter before bed can have health benefits.

According to one review, consuming a small, high-protein nighttime snack may improve overnight muscle protein synthesis, morning metabolism, and feelings of satiety in healthy men (10).

Another small study of active college-aged men found that consuming a good source of protein before bed increased their metabolism the next morning (11).

Still, specific research on peanut butter is needed.


The results on the effects of eating late at night have been mixed. While this habit may be linked to weight gain, studies also show that having a healthy snack at night can increase fullness, muscle growth, and metabolism, especially in men.

Peanut butter is a good source of many nutrients, including niacin, magnesium, heart-healthy fats, and vitamins B6 and E (1).

Its antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease (12).

It’s also high in protein, containing over 7 grams in every 2-tablespoon (32 grams) serving (1).

Increasing protein intake can reduce food cravings and regulate your appetite. In addition, adequate protein intake supports muscle growth, wound healing, and healthy growth and development (13, 14).

Peanuts are also a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can improve the quality of sleep (15, 16).

Also, your body uses tryptophan to produce compounds like serotonin and melatonin, both of which are also important in regulating sleep (17, 18).

Although there is no research on the effects of peanut butter on sleep, studies link foods rich in tryptophan with improved sleep quality (19, 20).

Therefore, eating peanut butter or other foods containing tryptophan before bed can help reduce sleep problems.


Peanut butter is very nutritious and high in protein, which reduces food cravings and promotes muscle growth. It also contains tryptophan, which can improve the quality of sleep.

The next time you crave a midnight snack, think about your health goals before reaching for that jar of peanut butter.

If you’re trying to lose weight, consider lower-calorie snacks like hummus, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, or fresh fruit instead.

However, if you’re trying to gain weight, build muscle, boost your metabolism, or improve the quality of your sleep, a snack with a spoonful of peanut butter can be a good choice as it provides essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, and a healthy heart, fats and Tryptophan.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Dietitian shares the ‘power nutrient’ she eats to live longer—that 95% of Americans don’t get enough of



The benefits of fiber

As a nutritionist, I always tell people that fiber – the kind you get from foods rather than supplements – is an essential fuel.

Adequate fiber intake has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain gastrointestinal disorders, and type 2 diabetes, researchers have found.

There is also evidence that the benefits of fiber go beyond a specific disease: eating more of it can lower people’s death rate. Even the diets of residents of the Blue Zones, the places on earth where people live longest, include fiber as a basic nutrient, especially in foods like black beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

A study by the National Institutes of Health found that people who consumed more fiber, especially from grains, had a significantly lower risk of death over a nine-year period than those who consumed less fiber.

The analysis included approximately 388,000 participants who were in a larger NIH-AARP diet and health study and who were between 50 and 71 years old at the start of the study.

How Much Fiber Should You Consume?

How to Increase Your Fiber Intake

The body does not break down fiber. Instead, it passes the body undigested and helps regulate the body’s sugar consumption and helps keep hunger and blood sugar in check.

According to researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, there are two types of fiber: soluble fiber, which can help lower glucose levels, as well as lowering blood cholesterol, and insoluble fiber, which can help move through your digestive system , promotes regularity and helps prevent constipation.

While you can easily take a fiber supplement, you will end up missing out on all of the other vitamins and minerals that whole foods provide.

The best sources of fiber are whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

Here are five high fiber foods I include in my diet for healthier, longer lives – along with simple ways to enjoy them:

1. Avocados

Fiber: 10 grams per cup, sliced


Loren Klein | Twenty20

In addition to their fiber content, avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to improving heart health.

Avocados are so versatile and their uses extend beyond simple dishes like guacamole. I usually add something to my smoothies, which creates a creamy, thick texture. Or instead of butter or mayonnaise, I smear a few slices on toasted bread.

2. raspberries

Fiber: 8 grams per cup


Katherine | Twenty20

Raspberries also provide a handful of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also have a lower glycemic index, which means they don’t raise blood sugar levels.

A 2017 study found that consuming fresh fruit, especially raspberries, every day can lower your risk of developing diabetes by 12%.

You can have a handful as a quick snack or get creative and add some acid to your salads. And to satisfy my sweet tooth, nothing beats yogurt with raspberries and crispy oats.

3. Lenses

Fiber: 21 grams per cup


Ilona Shorokhova | Twenty20

Lentils have an impressive amount of fiber per serving and are also an excellent source of protein (around 47 grams per cup), making them an ideal choice for filling meals.

Research suggests that consuming 150 grams of lentils daily may help improve blood lipid levels, blood pressure, and inflammation.

Lentils are delicious in a hearty soup or stew, but I think they go as well as protein in salads and tacos. If I want to reduce my meat consumption, I make lentil cakes for lunch or dinner.

4. Oats

Fiber: 8 grams per cup

Oats are a gluten-free whole grain that contains fiber and other important nutrients, including iron, zinc, and magnesium. They can also help you manage your blood sugar, heart health, and even weight, studies have shown.

For breakfast, oats can be used as a grain substitute in muffins and pancakes. For heartier dishes like meatballs, I like to use them as breadcrumbs.

5. Chia seeds

Fiber: 10 grams per ounce

Chia seeds

Anna | Twenty20

Even a small amount of chia seeds has many health benefits. They’re also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improvements in brain and heart health.

These tiny seeds can be sprinkled in smoothies, oatmeal, and salads. They gel when placed in liquid so you can easily make homemade jam with the berries of your choice.

Lauren Armstrong is a nutritionist and nutrition coach. She was also a nutritionist for The Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program. Lauren received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Western Michigan University and has written for several publications, including Livestrong and HealthDay.

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