Each year, "U.S. News & World Report" ranks the most popular diets, giving consumers an idea of which plans are the safest. For the fourth year in a row, the DASH diet made the top spot. As a result of the increased visibility of this diet, healthcare professionals may face questions from patients; by understanding the diet, you can provide helpful answers and wise advice.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan was developed in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). One of the main goals of the diet is to help prevent and reduce high blood pressure; it does so by limiting sodium intake. According to the NHLBI, the DASH diet can be used safely by people with or without high blood pressure.
In 2014, a panel of health experts from "U.S. News & World Report" determined that the diet was safe and complete; they also found that it was effective in preventing diabetes and promoting a healthy heart. When pitted against thirty-one other diets, the DASH diet was found to be the best diet. The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet came in second place, and the Mayo Clinic diet won the third-place honors. The Paleo diet came in last place.
The DASH diet came about as the result of two blood pressure studies by the NHLBI. During the first study, researchers found that participants could reduce their blood pressure by cutting back on fat, sugar, and red meat. In fact, the study participants who used the DASH eating plan saw results in as little as two weeks. The second study focused on sodium intake. Participants who cut back on their sodium while they followed the DASH plan saw the greatest reductions in blood pressure. As a result, the NHLBI integrated a low sodium intake recommendation into the DASH plan.
For many healthcare professionals, it is difficult to recommend any type of diet plan without a variety of supporting evidence. Fortunately, the DASH diet has more to recommend it than a "best diet" honor. According to a recent story from the NIH Record, the DASH approach has been proven safe and healthy by a number of independent studies. The DASH plan also enables some customization, which makes it easier to follow, particularly for people who have had trouble maintaining healthy eating habits. Participants can design a custom DASH eating plan to improve overall health and lose weight.
Whether you are looking for new eating plans to help clients or finding ways to improve your own health, the DASH diet is an excellent choice. The diet's solid, research-based foundation and range of supporting studies mean healthcare professionals can recommend the plan with confidence.
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