A mother, daughter, and father prepare a heart-healthful meal with colorful vegetables in the kitchen
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NIH-supported DASH diet tops rankings for “heart-healthy” and “healthy eating”


WHAT: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) has tied for first out of 39 diets for “Best Diets for Healthy Eating” and “Best Heart-Healthy Diets” in the 2021 Best Diets report from U.S. News & World Report. DASH, which builds nutrient-dense meals around whole grains, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, and fruits, and includes fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and healthy oils, also ranks second for “Best Diet Overall.”

Researchers developed DASH more than 20 years ago with support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. Multiple studies have found that the eating plan helps reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, two risk factors for heart disease. Compared to a standard diet, adults who follow DASH without altering sodium intake can lower their blood pressure within weeks. Study participants who reduced their sodium intake from 3,450 mg to 2,300 mg or less per day had even greater reductions in blood pressure. People with high blood pressure who adopted a low-sodium DASH diet, the equivalent of cutting sodium intake in half, saw the greatest improvements.

In addition to the low-sodium version of DASH, another modification includes swapping 10% of daily carbohydrates for protein or unsaturated fats. For DASH eating, no foods are off limit. Meals revolve around foods naturally rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein, and low in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Additional resources integrate heart-healthy tips for fitting in exercise, maintaining a healthful body weight, and limiting or avoiding alcohol.

For more on benefits of the DASH diet, visit: https://healthyeating.nhlbi.nih.gov
WHO: Nutrition researchers from the NHLBI are available to discuss the science behind DASH and the benefits of long-term, heart-healthful eating patterns.
 

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