Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

DASH to the DASH Diet


Diet and Nutrition

Diet and Nutrition (Photo credit: fantasyhealthball)

A new ranking of diets by U.S. News & World Report gives top honors for best overall diet to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

Originally developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to lower blood pressure, the diet plan is available free online, therefore,  the best diet plan for overall health may not cost a thing. The ranking included seven categories in all

Weight Watchers won best weight loss diet as well as easiest to follow and best commercial diet.  But the DASH diet tied with The Biggest Loser Diet on how to manage diabetes along with the best for healthy eating.  The Mediterranean diet won best plant-based diet.

As far as evidence goes, two classic studies exemplify the research on the DASH and Mediterranean diets.  To my knowledge, the other diets have been less studied.

In the DASH Diet, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat reduced blood pressure even when salt intake and weight remained unchanged. (Lawrence J. Appel, at al. “A Clinical Trial of the Effects of Dietary Patterns on Blood Pressure.” New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 336, April 17, 1997),  This study did not rely on food-frequency questionnaires , but rather the researchers furnished the meals for the participants.

The Lyon Diet Heart Study found that the Mediterranean diet, when compared to a Western diet, offered protection against a second heart attack during the four years patients were followed.  (Michael de Lorgerill., “Mediterranean Diet, Traditional Risk Factors, and the Rate of Cardiovascular Complications after Myocardial Infarction,” Circulation 1999:99:779-86.)


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