It seems every day we’re hearing about some new product that promises to do amazing things like save you time and/or money on household chores or eliminate fat from certain parts of the body. Sometimes these gadgets and gizmos work, and sometimes they . . . well . . . don’t.
The same is true for a number of popular (some may say “fad”) diet programs on the market: some are more successful at helping people develop healthy eating habits and maintain a healthy weight than others. Earlier this year, U. S. News & World Report investigated and ranked 20 popular diet plans based on their effectiveness at promoting weight loss (both short and long term), ease of use, nutritional content and other criteria. The DASH diet, an eating plan recognized for its effectiveness at lowering high blood pressure, was ranked number one in two categories.
DASH (which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was developed through research by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute on the effect of diet on blood pressure. Study participants following the DASH eating plan—which emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy, as well lean protein and nuts (which are all naturally low in sodium and saturated fat)—saw a significant decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol. Not only that, following the DASH diet can help avoid heart attack and stroke and can prevent the development of hypertension among people with normal blood pressure. Thanks to its proven cardiovascular benefits, the DASH diet has been endorsed by the American Heart Association
DASH is lower in fat and sodium and higher in several key nutrients believed to help lower blood pressure (including magnesium, calcium and potassium) than a typical American diet. And, because of its focus on nutrient-rich whole foods (especially fruits, vegetables and whole grains), DASH may also help prevent the development of osteoporosis and some cancers.
(Post content reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department. Photo Credit Zsuzsanna Kilian)