In their annual diet rankings, US News & World Report awards the top spot to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet) for the sixth consecutive year. This article will attempt to answer questions such as these: What is the DASH diet? What do the experts say? What does the research suggest? What kind of foods does the DASH diet prescribe?
DASH Diet Receives Glowing Commendations
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet) was originally created to help treat or prevent high blood pressure including the reduction of sodium in the diet. However US News & World Report’s annual diet rankings award the DASH diet several top spots in their various diet categories:
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet) ranked:
- 1 out of 38 Overall diet
- 1 out of 38 Healthy Eating diet
- 2 out of 38 Best Diabetes diet
- 3 out of 38 Heart Healthy diet
- 9 out of 38 Easiest Diets to Follow
- 12 out of 38 Best Weight Loss diets
- 17 out of 38 Fast Weight Loss diets
The Mayo Clinic also commends the DASH diet. Here's what they have to say:
Because the DASH diet is a healthy way of eating, it offers health benefits besides just lowering blood pressure. The DASH diet is also in line with dietary recommendations to prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Further research led us to Marla Heller, a registered dietitian who has written several bestselling books about the diet. Marla Heller shares at dashdiet.org that the DASH diet
has been proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and is associated with lower risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney stones, reduced risk of developing diabetes, and can slow the progression of kidney disease.
Wow! Those are powerful commendations, now that we understand what all the buzz is about, let's dig further and learn more about the DASH diet.
What is the DASH diet?
The Mayo Clinic describes the DASH diet
… a lifelong approach to healthy eating that's designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). The DASH diet encourages you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.
The National Institutes of Health - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute describes the DASH diet as
a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life. The DASH eating plan requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. This plan recommends:
- Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
- Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
- Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets
When following the DASH eating plan, it is important to choose foods that are:
- Low in saturated and trans fats
- Rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein
- Lower in sodium
What does the DASH diet prescribe for us to eat?
The DASH diet prescribes the following:
- Whole Grains: 6 to 8 servings a day
- Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings a day
- Fruits: 4 to 5 servings a day
- Dairy: 2 to 3 servings a day
- Lean meat, poultry and fish: 6 servings (ounces) or fewer a day
- Fats and oils: 2 to 3 servings a day
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 4 to 5 servings a week; Sweets: 5 servings or fewer a week
A very detailed breakdown of the DASH eating plan is available from the National Institute of Health - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which prescribes daily caloric intake for men and women based on their age and activity level. The National Institutes of Health also provides an outstanding guide for living with the DASH eating plan.
How do we know the DASH diet is effective?
There has been much research showing the effectiveness of the diet, plus the experts from the US News & World Report's diet evaluation all agree it is the best diet for six consecutive years.
Marla Heller provides an outstanding list of research supporting the claims she makes at her site and in the several books she has written. And the National Institute of Health summarizes their studies and results.
As with any diet it is recommended to include exercise or physical activity which will make it more likely that you will achieve an improved health outcome. Whether that outcome is lowering your blood pressure, reducing the bad cholesterol, or losing weight.
Are there recipes or example menus for me to look at?
Yes! To get you started, we liked the extensive recipes found at Oregon Dairy Council’s Nutritional Education Services and the Mayo Clinic. The web has an abundance of menus and recipes for us to review. Simply search Google to begin tapping into the plentiful DASH recipes.
Will I lose weight?
Although the DASH diet is not designed as a weight loss program, you may lose weight because you make healthier food choices. You improve your likelihood of losing weight by reducing the calories you take in and exercising. The American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of aerobic activity three to four times a week.
US News & World Report referenced studies suggesting the DASH diet is effective at helping people lose weight, although persons who want to focus on weight loss as a primary health outcome will want to reduce calories. Alternatively we can look at these other diets: Best Weight Loss Diets or Best Fast Weight Loss Diets.
Can the DASH diet control or prevent diabetes?
With respect to preventing Type 2 diabetes, the DASH diet as a lifestyle change can help you lose weight and keep it off, as being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. And if you reduce the calorie intake you can reduce the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome which is a contributor to diabetes and heart problems.
With respect to controlling diabetes, US & World Report summarized a study published in 2011 in Diabetes Care found Type 2 diabetics on DASH reduced their levels of A1C – a measure of blood sugar over time – and their fasting blood sugar after eight weeks.
Is the DASH diet expensive?
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods are generally more expensive than the processed, fatty, and sugary foods most Americans consume.
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It is very simple and cost effective to consume Juice Plus+.
How is it simple? You do not have to purchase, clean, prepare, and consume these 25 fruits and vegetables that are included in Juice Plus+ every day. Juice Plus+ is a wonderful way to supplement the amount of fruits and vegetables that you eat each day, and gives your body access to the nutrients, phytonutrients, and antioxidants in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Including ones that may not be in season and readily available, or ones that may not be your preference to eat.
How is it cost effective? Juice Plus+ provides access to nutrients and phytonutrients from 25 fruits and vegetables at a cost of ~$2.50 a day. That's less than a cup of cappuccino at your favorite coffee shop, and a whole lot better for you.
Although Juice Plus+ is a wonderful complement to any diet that prescribes fruits and vegetables, it is not a replacement for fruits and vegetables. We still need to consume fruits and vegetables to get the fiber and wholesome goodness from them.
It is more helpful to think of Juice Plus+ as a way to bridge the gap between the amount of fruits and vegetables we should eat verses how many we do eat every day.
Where can I learn more about Juice Plus+?
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Where can I learn more about the DASH diet?
The National Institutes of Health - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides two guides that you may download and read.
What's our verdict?
We recommend the DASH diet along with Juice Plus+ supplementation and regular aerobic exercise for the whole family. This combination will surely deliver the promise of Healthier Products for a Healthier You!