What’s the best diet for losing weight? According to a recent ranking report released by U.S. News and World Report, Weight Watchers tied with the DASH diet for being the most effective diet plan for weight loss. Most people are aware of Weight Watchers and how it works, but fewer are familiar with the DASH diet. Doctors recommend this diet, not just for weight loss but to prevent and treat other health problems as well.
What is the DASH Diet?
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and that’s what this diet was designed to do – lower blood pressure – and it works well for that purpose. According to some studies, following this type of diet can lower systolic blood pressure by as much as 14 points and diastolic blood pressure by as much as 6. That’s comparable to what you might get by taking some blood pressure medications.
The DASH isn’t just effective for lowering blood pressure; it also helps with weight loss. In one study, participants who followed this diet lost almost 12 pounds over a 2 month period without feeling hungry. The participants also experienced a reduction in their blood pressure, fasting glucose level and LDL cholesterol level, which bodes well for their health overall. Their HDL, the good form of cholesterol that protects against heart disease, went up. This makes it an ideal diet for diabetics and people who want to reduce their risk of heart disease.
What Are the Components of the DASH Diet?
The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. Recommendations include:
Eight to ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily
Seven to eight servings of whole grains daily
Two to three servings of low-fat dairy daily
Two to three servings of lean protein daily
Four to five servings weekly of nuts, beans, and legumes
Avoid sweets and high-fat foods.
Why Is This a Good Eating Plan?
The DASH diet is centered around whole foods and emphasizes fruits and vegetables and whole grains over refined grains. In many ways, it’s similar to a Mediterranean diet, a diet that’s considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. It’s not meant to be a weight loss diet, but because of its emphasis on low-calorie fruits and vegetables, people who follow it will likely shed pounds.
Other benefits of this diet are that it doesn’t skimp on protein. You can eat a lean source of protein at every meal when following this plan. This is important since research shows that diets higher in protein increase satiety and help to prevent muscle loss. It also emphasizes whole grains over processed ones. It’s a high-fiber, low-sodium, well-balanced eating plan that’s good for overall health.
The DASH diet really isn’t a diet since that implies a short term focus. It’s an eating plan that reduces the risk of a variety of health conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and, possibly, some types of cancer.
The Bottom Line?
The DASH diet is a fresh alternative to diets that focus on short-term weight loss at the expense of good health. It’s an eating plan that you can stick with for life not only to avoid weight gain but to be healthier overall. Combine it with regular exercise, and you have a winning plan for better health.
Medscape.com. “DASH Diet: Not Just for Hypertension?”
Medscape.com. “DASH Diet May Substantially Lower Risk for CHD as Well as Blood Pressure”