I am a male, 46 years old, 192 lbs., 5 11″. I exercise regularly and I’m looking for a healthy diet to help keep in good shape and keep my cholesterol, sugar levels, blood pressure, and other levels in check. What would you recommend for me?
– Jorge M.
Great job exercising daily and being proactive to keep chronic disease markers in check! A Mediterranean or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan seems suitable for your goals. Really, a blend of these is ideal.
The Mediterranean style diet emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, and healthy fats as core foods. Fish and seafood are eaten twice weekly while dairy foods, eggs, and poultry are eaten moderate portions. Red meat and sweets are rarely eaten.
The American Heart Association’s DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy to provide potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It is high in fiber, moderate in sodium, and low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar with little red meat. See table below.
Your anthropometrics and activity level suggests an estimated daily energy need of 2,700 calories. Combining the two plans, you should base meals on a foundation of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruit, and nuts. Fish, seafood, low-fat dairy and healthy plant fats (e.g. olive oil, avocado) should round-out your diet. Also, spread your food intake throughout the day to support energy levels, proper digestion, and metabolism.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.
Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.