For the fifth year in a row, the DASH diet has been announced as the best overall diet, according to rankings from U.S. News & World Report. It even beat out Weight Watchers and the Mediterranean diet, which until now, we always thought was the absolute best. Reuters also reports that DASH was also chosen by health experts as the top diet for diabetics and the best plan for healthy eating.
If you’re anything like us, though, you might be wondering what is the DASH diet? First of all, it’s more of a model for healthy eating than an actual diet. If you want boost your heart health and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol low, eating this way is the best way to do it—not with some crazy diet that heavily limits what you can eat.
Here are all the details you need to know about the best diet you’ve probably never heard of:
What does “DASH” mean?
Don’t worry — this diet has nothing to do with the Kardashians. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The diet was originally created from research sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health as an eating plan to lower blood pressure without medication. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) also helped create the diet, and publishes free guides to help you master the diet.
What can you eat on the DASH diet?
The general gist of it is to eat mostly the foods you’ve always been told to eat, and limit the ones you know are bad. On the DASH diet you are instructed to eat:
- whole grains
- fruits and vegetables
- low-fat and nonfat dairy
- heart-healthy fats
- lean protein
Red meat, sweets and fatty foods are not banned, but should be consumed sparingly. The diet focuses on foods rich in nutrients like calcium, potassium and magnesium, and low in sodium and saturated fats.
Will you lose weight on the DASH diet?
The original DASH diet was designed to lower blood pressure, not for weight loss. But eating healthier foods that are good for your heart and body will naturally help keep you at a healthy weight. The good news is there’s als a weight loss-focused version of the diet, which suggests creating a calorie deficit.
Is the DASH diet safe?
Since there’s no cutting out entire food groups and the diet is basically just a healthy way of eating, DASH is completely safe. In fact, the diet’s parameters are in line with the recommended dietary guidelines for fat, protein, carbohydrates, salt, fiber, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and calcium. If you eat according to DASH, you’ll be more than safe — you’ll be improving your health for the long run.For specific eating guidelines, head over to the DASH diet website.