In case you were curious about the best overall diet of 2014, I’ve rounded up 9 facts about the DASH diet. Although U.S. News and World Report has named the DASH diet the best diet 4 years in a row, it’s been relatively obscure until now. DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, focuses on eating a variety of foods while lowering your sodium intake. While many of us might not be focusing our attention on controlling blood pressure, the DASH plan is a balanced way of eating for everyone. If you’re curious about this highly rated way of eating, keep reading for facts about the DASH diet.
1. What is the DASH Diet?
Let’s start this list of facts about the DASH diet with the origins of this way of eating. This eating plan was initially developed as a way to lower blood pressure, but it turned out to be a fabulous way to lose weight as well. The DASH diet is recommended for those who have been diagnosed with hypertension or prehypertension however, it’s a healthy way of eating for anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle and eat better.
2. What You Eat
The DASH way of eating concentrates on lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat and fat-free dairy, whole grains, poultry, fish, beans, seeds and nuts. You eat 2,000 calories a day and are encouraged to increase your intake of magnesium, calcium and potassium to help lower your blood pressure. The majority of what one eats each day are 6-8 servings of whole grains, 4-5 servings each of vegetables and fruits and 6 or fewer servings of fish, poultry and lean meat.
3. What You Don’t Eat
The DASH diet is well-balanced so while there are foods to avoid having too much of, you have a little of everything. This includes limited amounts of added sugars and sugary drinks, fats and sodium and alcohol. Caffeine isn’t addressed in the DASH diet plan however, caffeine has been shown to temporarily elevate blood pressure so if you’re on the DASH diet to lower your reduce blood pressure, talk to your doctor regarding your caffeine intake.
4. Two Versions
There are actually two versions of the DASH diet. One being the standard DASH diet where you can consume up to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day or the low sodium DASH diet where you consume up to 1,500 milligrams of sodium. Both versions are lower in sodium than the standard American diet, which typically contains around 3,500 milligrams of sodium.
5. It’s Not Just for Hypertension
While the main idea behind the DASH diet is to decrease blood pressure, the eating plan has also been identified as being heart healthy and The Mayo Clinic found that DASH may help protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.
6. No Restricted Food Groups
One of the best things about the DASH eating plan is that there are no restricted food groups. You don’t have to swear off any of your favorite foods or drinks. You can enjoy all that you currently love in moderate amounts, just on a less frequent basis. Having no restricted food groups can make it easier to ease your way into a different way of eating and you won’t feel like you’re missing out!
7. Weight Loss Version
While there are two versions of the original DASH diet for reducing sodium intake as previously mentioned, both which can result in weight loss, there is yet another version of the diet which was created specifically for weight loss by dietitian Marla Heller. Dr. Oz featured a 7-day DASH diet plan on his website with sample meals and a quick explanation of the weight loss plan, here doctoroz.com.
8. Why It’s Ranked Best
As you can tell by much of the information presented here, the DASH diet is well-balanced and just encourages eating sensibly. So, what makes it so special and award-worthy? DASH got high marks for being tried, true and proven to lower blood pressure and encourage heart health. Angela Haupt, health & wellness editor for U.S. News says “Best Diets 2014 is designed to help consumers identify a diet that suits their specific needs, whether they are trying to lose weight, control a chronic disease or achieve a healthier lifestyle overall.” Curious on what ranked lowest on the list of best diets for 2014? The Paleo Diet and Dukan Diet actually rated the lowest. For the entire list go to health.usnews.com
9. Should You Try It?
If you feel like the DASH diet is something you want to pursue, discuss it with your doctor before you jump in. The DASH eating plan is sensible, balanced and backed by research, so whether you decide to adopt all the methods or just follow some of the guidelines, it’s a healthy way to go. For research articles on the DASH diet, check out dashdiet.org.
There are lots of new diets cropping up all the time but no matter how good it might seem on the surface, don’t forget to do your research! What do you think of the DASH diet? Do you think it’s an eating plan you could follow?