Ranked Best Overall Diet by the US News and World Report for the sixth year in a row in 2016, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is popular for its science-based, inclusive approach to helping Americans lower their high blood pressure nearly as effectively as some medications.
The diet provides science-based, healthy eating recommendations, emphasizing foods you should eat as opposed to foods you should not. The balanced low-fat diet is rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods. Many people enjoy the flexibility of choosing their own whole grains and fruit and vegetable favorites, without having to remove lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, fats, oils, or 2-3 servings of dairy a day – eliminations common in other diets. The diet encourages 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products along with eight-ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Simple checklists, diet patterns and recipes can help most consumers enjoy the DASH Diet long-term. Daily nutrient goals and eating guides are provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The DASH-Sodium Clinical trials were funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and completed in 2002. The results of the study established that the DASH style of eating was able to reduce blood pressure significantly across many populations. Blood pressure reductions were immediate and occurred within two weeks after the participants started on the diets.
The DASH diet is rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, fiber and protein and low in saturated and trans fats. Milk, yogurt and cheese are among the top diet contributors of calcium, potassium and magnesium – a trio of minerals that have been shown to play an important role in maintaining blood pressure.