A chart that explains the elements and principles of the Dash Diet.
Consult your doctor if you're considering a new diet plan. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/George Kelly/Flickr)

A recent study published in U.S. News and World Report indicates that Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH Diet) rises above the competition as the best diet overall. While the name implies that the DASH Diet is primarily geared toward individuals suffering from hypertension, a study conducted by a panel of 22 nutrition and health experts found that it was still the best overall for combining losing weight with reducing high blood pressure and combating diabetes.

No one diet fits all

Reuters reports that most dieticians tell patients that no single diet is ideal for all people. While a system like Weight Watchers may be best for losing weight, others may be better for high blood pressure or diabetic individuals. The DASH Diet ranked best overall in the study, followed closely by the Mediterranean Diet, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast and the Raw Food Diet.

Diets ranked in seven categories

The seven criteria against which the diets in the U.S. News and World Report study were compared run the gamut of health maintenance, nutritional completeness and convenience. Short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, easiness to follow, nutritional well-roundedness, diabetes prevention/management and combating heart disease were the key diet factors considered.

After rankings in those categories were determined, the panel of experts then took the diets and ranked them in the categories of best overall diet, best commercial diet plan, best weight-loss plan, best diabetes maintenance and most heart-healthy. The DASH Diet ranked first overall and best for diabetics.

DASH Diet benefits for teen girls

While the DASH Diet has produced measurable results for adults with special dietary needs, the Huffington Post notes that the diet is also seen as being particularly beneficial to teenage girls. Teen girls who follow a diet quite similar to the DASH Diet showed the smallest increase in body mass index (BMI) over a 10-year period, according to a new scientific study. Curiously, those girls who showed the best BMI results had a higher than recommended sugar intake, writes the Los Angeles Times.

Experts attribute these findings to the fact that the DASH Diet omits red meat and most carbohydrates and replaces them with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. Another benefit of such a dietary plan is the reduction of salt intake, which aids in the reduction of high blood pressure.

Work with your doctor to DASH toward healthy food choices


The Dash Diet Eating Plan: http://dashdiet.org/

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/07/dash-diet-guidelines-stud_n_872481.html

Los Angeles Times: http://lat.ms/jCknp4

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/07/us-diets-report-idUSTRE75657C20110607

U.S. News and World Report: http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/dash-diet

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