DASH diet

DASH, developed by the National Institutes for Health, is a flexible eating plan built around fruits, vegetables and low-fat foods that provides daily and weekly nutritional goals.

For the seventh year in a row, U.S. News and World Report has ranked the DASH diet developed by the National Institutes for Health the best overall diet, according to a Jan. 4 NIH news release.

With its focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins, the diet also ranked as the best for diabetes and healthy eating, and tied as the best for heart disease prevention.

Researchers funded by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute developed the diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, to prevent and treat high blood pressure, but the diet also has been highly effective in lowering blood cholesterol, according to reports.

DASH is a healthy eating plan that supports long-term lifestyle changes, NIH said. It is low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods, and includes whole grains, poultry, fish, lean meats, beans and nuts.

It is rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber. It also calls for a reduction in high-fat red meat, sweets and sugar-containing beverages.

The DASH diet was one of 38 diets reviewed and scored by the U.S. News and World Report’s panel of health experts. To receive top ratings a diet has to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease.

See nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash to learn more.

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