Does This #1 Diet Deserve the Hype?

86522348For four years in a row, the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet has been rated as the best diet. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have both recommended this diet as one that can help prevent heart disease and stroke. But does the DASH diet deserve its hype?

In my opinion, the DASH diet is one of those types of diets that most people could do very well on regardless of their present health needs. The DASH diet was a nutritional program originally developed a few years ago to help prevent high blood pressure by encouraging the consumption of more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and discouraging the consumption of sodium.

On the DASH diet, you can also eat lean protein, nuts, and lower-fat dairy products and you’re supposed to avoid eating red meat, sugar, and fat. It is a higher-carbohydrate, higher-fiber but low-fat, low-sodium diet that has been previously shown to control blood pressure and lower cholesterol in people at risk of chronic disease.

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According to the US News and World Report, the DASH diet is the best overall diet of 2014, after a panel of health experts evaluated 32 different diet plans.

Also in the running for best heart healthy diet was the Ornish diet—another high-fiber, low-fat diet, which was given the panel’s seal of approval. The Mediterranean diet was chosen as the best plant-based diet.

The diets were ranked based upon their short and long term effects on weight loss, their ease of use, palatability, safety, nutritional quality, and their effects on heart health and diabetes. The DASH diet was previously named the best diet for diabetes as well.

In my opinion, the DASH diet is not the best diet to consume if you want to lose weight, lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke and lower dangerously high levels of inflammation. Although it is lower in sodium, processed food, and saturated and trans fat, there are some weaknesses.

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While the DASH diet is quite high in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products, it does not stress the importance of eating fatty fish, legumes, nuts, and healthy oils. Although the DASH diet is a good overall diet to consume, it is not the best diet out there.

In my opinion, the Mediterranean diet is the best diet for weight loss, preventing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, and controlling the deadly effects of inflammation.

In my opinion, this diet is also probably the best anti-aging diet currently available. Obviously, the “experts” have not been reviewing the latest research regarding diets and health outcomes. The research on the Mediterranean diet is vast and quite compelling. It was not developed by any governmental organization but the evidence is quite clear regarding how this diet works, its safety, great appeal, and how versatile it can be.

The Mediterranean diet has higher amounts of legumes and essential fats like oily fish, nuts, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, and more emphasis upon dairy products like Greek yogurt and feta cheese. It requires that you also eat whole grains, vegetables, and whole fruits. It also encourages the moderate consumption of red wine.

In my view, this diet is the hands down winner for 2014!

Sources:
“DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure,” Mayo Clinic web site;  http://www.mayoclinic.org/dash-diet/art-20048456, last accessed Jan.13, 2014.
Doheny, K., “DASH Diet Ranked Best Overall, Once Again,” Medscape web site; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/818762#1, last accessed Jan. 13, 2014.