The #1 Ranked Diet by US News & World: Have You Heard of it?

The #1 Ranked Diet by US News & World: Have You Heard of it?

The #1 diet plan in the US News & World report is federally-endorsed and supported by physicians as a blood pressure aid. It's also diabetic friendly, and great for weight loss and managing cholesterol. Have you heard of it?

The DASH diet - short for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" - was developed in the mid-1990s by Thomas Moore of the Boston University Medical Center. DASH is focused on cutting salt intake and increasing plant-based foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables) rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Unlike many fad diets, DASH has been clincically tested in a variety of settings.

High Blood Pressure and Heart Attack

Many people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) are unaware of their disorder, and therefore do not seek treatment. Often called "the silent killer", hypertension causes the arterial blood vessels to narrow and harden - which can lead to a heart attack. Hypertensive individuals are generally advised to lower sodium (or salt) consumption in foods as a high salt diet has been correlated to increased hypertension. Most packaged foods and frozen dinners available in grocery stores contain high amounts of sodium.

Relationship of Obesity to Hypertension

The risk of developing high blood pressure increases in obesity - and is occurring more often in adolescents in the United States. Along with one-third of all adults, 17% of youth are currently obese in the United States (according to an article published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association [311(8):806-814]. Losing weight is associated with decreased hypertension in overweight persons, and promotion of the DASH diet is an obesity-prevention measure. Results of the National Growth and Health Study of more than 2,300 children showed that those who followed "Dash-like" diets were the least likely to become overweight in adolescence (which is a major predictor of obesity in adulthood).

The DASH Diet and Mediterranean Diet

Besides a high intake of vegetables, the DASH diet includes whole grains, nuts, fish, chicken, and low-fat dairy products. Like the Mediterranean diet, it limits intake of refined sugar and saturated fats. The difference between the DASH and Mediterranean diets is that the DASH diet plan includes more unsaturated fat that is considered supportive of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Individuals who eat traditional American diets consume a high level of saturated fat in "red meat" and dairy products - which is linked to high LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream (as well as calories). A high caloric intake will produce weight gain in most people - and the empty calories found in snacks in elementary schools (which also have a high salt content) have resulted in a childhood obesity epidemic in the United States. Eating the healthy foods included in the DASH diet - and eliminating those food items not included in the DASH diet - can help children and teenagers remain within a normal weight range as well as promote healthier eating habits.

While not designed primarily as a weight-loss program, the DASH diet can prevent dangerous conditions that develop later in life as a result of both obesity and long-term unhealthy eating habits. High cholesterol and hypertension are both factors linked to the development of heart disease - and heart attack is the primary cause of death in adults in the United States. Whether overweight or at a Body Mass Index (BMI) within normal range, teenagers and young adults can reduce their future heart attack risk by adopting the DASH diet on a long-term basis to preserve their overall health.

CATEGORIES: Diabetes, Cholesterol, DASH, Vitamins & Minerals, Weight Loss