DASH Diet just got ranked number one in the U.S. News and World Report annual dieting survey earning three out of five stars. Their panel of medical experts has rated DASH as the best plan to follow to avoid developing diabetes later on. It was also rated the “best overall diet” for its ability to battle high blood pressure and help people lose weight. DASH diet (acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a diet that is low fat and low sodium, while emphasizing a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and fiber. Good news for patients struggling with hypertension! Not only will the diet help you lose weight but with salt as the new public enemy (move over sugar), this low salt diet may be the key to keeping the pounds off. New research confirms that the DASH diet can measurably reduce blood pressure, but also shows that results can be even better when the diet is coupled with exercise and a weight management program.
Interestingly, when Consumer Reports did its own deep dive on diets last month, Jenny Craig came out numero uno, while Slim-Fast and Weight Watchers came in second and third, respectively. The low-carb Atkins diet came in last. While the U.S. News research team recommended larger studies and a longer-term follow-up with participants, the evidence so far on DASH is nonetheless important. It suggests a low-cost, drug-free solution for the roughly 74 million people in the U.S. with high blood pressure. The DASH diet has now been adopted as part of national recommendations for preventing and treating high blood pressure. For tips on ways to reduce sodium in your diet, check out this FYI Nutrition article on salt.
DASH Diet May Help Prevent Kidney Stones
DASH yourself away from kidney stone risk. A new study suggests following the DASH diet could also help lower your risk for kidney stones. Kidney stones form when there is an excess of certain crystalline substances like minerals and salts in the urine that can then precipitate (form a solid). Often, this process is worsened by dehydration. A decrease in fluid intake leads to a decrease in urination, creating an optimal environment for stones to form. When the body tries to excrete the stones through the urine, the tubes get blocked, causing significant pain. Recent research on 241,766 people in the U.S. revealed an association between the DASH diet and the risk of kidney stones. The researchers found that people who ate a diet more in line with DASH principles were 40 to 55 percent less likely to develop kidney stones than those whose diet was less DASH compliant.
How Is There So Much Salt in our Diets?
One teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium – the maximum daily recommended intake for healthy individuals by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, 70 percent of the population has one or more cardiovascular risk factors, like high blood pressure, are older than 40 years old, or are African American. If that’s you, the CDC recommends only 1,500mg of sodium per day. The average American consumes closer to 3,400mg of sodium daily and public health officials are combing for ways to cut back and save lives in the process.
More than 75 percent of your sodium intake is from processed foods and you may be consuming more sodium than you think. Here are some of the biggest culprits: fast food; restaurant food; canned foods like beans, soups, stews, fish, and veggies; cheese; bread; instant soups, gravies and packaged seasoned rice dishes; smoked, cured, or processed meats; and condiments like ketchup, sauces, olives and pickles.
To Try the DASH Diet
Increase your veggies, your fruit, say yes to whole grains and no to processed foods. Think low-fat and lean when it comes to milk and meat consumption.