DASH Diet Tops Annual ‘Best Diets’ List

January 7, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

The DASH diet is on the top of the annual “best diets” list published by U.S. News & World Report.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and is “a flexible and balanced eating plan,” according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The eating plan lowers blood pressure, and is lower in sodium (salt) than the typical American diet. 

It is also low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat, while focusing on fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

It is also rich in whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts, while containing fewer sweets, added sugars, and sugary beverages–along with red meat–than the typical American diet.

U.S. News said that it reviewed and ranked 32 diets with input from a panel of health experts.

“To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe and effective for weight loss and against diabetes and heart disease,” it said. “The government-endorsed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) snagged the top spot.

Second place went to the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes), which was created by the National Institutes of Health. It has no major weaknesses and it’s especially good at promoting cardiovascular health, U.S. News said. “One expert described it as a ‘very healthful, complete, safe diet.’ But it requires a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach, in contrast to the hand-holding provided by some commercial diets.”

Third place went to the mayo Clinic Diet, which focuses on making healthy eating a lifelong habit. “It earned especially high ratings from our experts for its nutrition and safety and as a tool against diabetes. Experts found it moderately effective for weight loss.”

The last two spots were taken by: the Paleo Diet–which restricts people to very lean, pure meats, and lots of wild plants, ranked low because of the difficulty of maintaining it in the modern world, and the Dukan Diet, which has lots of rules, and four phases, from the pure protein “attack phase” to the “cruise,” where the dieter chooses certain vegetables on certain days.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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