The news is in. For a decade, the DASH Diet has been ranked as one of the top 3 diets by an expert panel at US News and World Report (#1 for eight years, and #2 the last two). It tied with a Flexitarian Diet (4/.1/5), and was just barely topped by the Mediterranean Diet (4.2/5).
DASH is a dietary pattern based on good evidence that this diet plan can help lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. This is part is why I chose to coauthor books about it.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure). The diet plan however, is a safe and healthy choice for anyone, even those without hypertension. It can be used as a guide for healthy eating for diabetes (DASH came in #2 for diabetes as well), and can help with weight management. In fact, it tied for #1 with Mediterranean for the Best Diet for Healthy Eating category.
This is why many health professionals are working to make DASH a household name when it comes to understanding a healthy dietary pattern.
These diets are evaluated using an objective system that includes several factors. Each diet is ranked based on factors that impact health or support compliance on the diet. After all, adherence to a dietary pattern is key in sustaining any health benefit from it.
US News expert panel use the following factors to evaluate each diet, and rank each on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being ineffective, and 5 being extremely effective, or 1 being extremely difficult, and 5 being extremely easy.
- Short-term weight loss. Likelihood of losing significant weight during the first 12 months.
- Long-term weight loss. Likelihood of maintaining significant weight loss for two years or more, based on available evidence.
- Diabetes. Effectiveness for preventing diabetes or use as a maintenance diet for people with diabetes.
- Heart. Effectiveness for cardiovascular (heart) disease prevention and as risk-reducing plan for heart patients.
- Ease of compliance. Likelihood of following the diet plan based on satiety (a feeling of fullness, so that you’ll stop eating), taste, special requirements.
- Nutritional completeness. Based on conformance with the federal government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a widely accepted nutritional benchmark.
- Health risks. Malnourishment, specific nutrient concerns, extreme or rapid weight loss, contraindications for certain populations or existing conditions, etc. (ranked based on extremely safe, or extremely unsafe or unknown)
DASH does not eliminate animal products, but it does limit them. In fact, including dairy in the diet is one of the blood-pressure lowering strategies. Adding 6-8 ounces of plain or low sugar yogurt to your breakfast or snack routine, cooking with low fat milk, all count toward your dairy goal. The focus of the diet however is on adding plants – more fruits, vegetables, and grain dishes to your diet. The diet also limits unnecessary calories from sugar and sweets.
For meat lovers, this means you can still enjoy a really good 5-ounce steak or a pork chop, while you also load your plate with vegetables. In addition, you want to swap in some plant based meals, like a delicious bean, pasta, salad, or a vegetable-grain dish. It really isn’t that hard, and this is partly what makes DASH Diet rank so high.
Have You Tried Adopting DASH?
Have you tried it yet? With a top-3 ranking for a decade, you should consider picking up a copy of our book to start learning more about the diet. DASH Diet For Dummies® includes background on the diet, your heart, and also easy steps to learning how to incorporate the diet’s strategies to your eating plan and lifestyle. It also includes delicious recipes.
Here’s to your health in the new year!