WHAT: For the seventh year in a row, U.S. News and World Report ranked the NIH-developed DASH Diet “best overall” diet. With its focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins, the diet also ranked as the best for diabetes and healthy eating, and tied as the best for heart disease prevention.
Researchers funded by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) developed DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, to prevent and treat high blood pressure, but the diet also has been highly effective in lowering blood cholesterol.
DASH is not a fad diet, but a healthy eating plan that supports long-term lifestyle changes. It is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods, and includes whole grains, poultry, fish, lean meats, beans, and nuts. It is rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber. However, it calls for a reduction in high fat red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages.
The DASH diet was one of 38 diets reviewed and scored by the U.S. News and World Report’s panel of health experts. To receive top ratings a diet has to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease.
WHO: Janet M. de Jesus, M.S., R.D., Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science (CTRIS), NHLBI, NIH, is available for comments.