An estimated 45 million Americans diet each year according to U.S. News and World Report. That number peaks on January 1st as people proclaim to start a “diet” for their New Year’s Resolution. With every bookstore window front bursting with clearance how-to cookbooks for Paleo, Vegan, low-carb or intermittent fasting diets; many people are left wondering, what is the best diet?
Last year, the DASH diet was named Best Diet Overall for the 7th year in a row. Its top rank is supported by its high scores in the categories of “Best Diets for Heart Disease,” “Best Diets for Diabetes,” and “Best Diets for Healthy Eating.” But the DASH diet doesn’t just receive accolades because of its health promoting effects. All diets in 2017 were reviewed on several measures, including ease of following and whether it supports healthy behaviors like weight loss and decreased disease risk. We love the DASH diet because it’s science-based nutrition, it’s sustainable, and it is inclusive (not restrictive of favorite foods).
The DASH Diet in Summary
It’s all about getting the right nutrients to improve your health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods (cheese too) and whole grains (yep, even grains) provides fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium; nutrients which support a healthy body and manage blood pressure naturally. The DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, diet has been shown to manage blood pressure in just two weeks. One of its best features is that it recommends eating more healthy foods versus the typical deprivation of foods.
The DASH diet recommends 7-8 servings of grains each day on a 2000 calorie diet. It encourages fresh whole wheat bread or adding barley to a winter soup. Including grains in the diet provides fiber, minerals and B vitamins missed out on while eating grain-free. The B vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, play a key role in metabolism, among other benefits.
Four to five servings of both fruits and vegetables each day is the part of the DASH diet most people take time getting used to. In early January in Washington, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, and winter squashes make delicious seasonal side dishes baked in the oven, sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Sliced apples taste good all year and frozen Washington berries make delicious fruit smoothies.
Two to three servings of low-fat dairy foods make up a key component of the DASH diet. Most popular for their calcium content, dairy foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt are often forgotten for their B vitamins, protein, and potassium content. These nutrients play an important role in managing blood pressure, metabolism and maintaining strong bones and muscles. Start your day with a cup of yogurt and snack on a cheese stick during your work break to easily add two servings.
More Reasons to Consider the DASH Diet this Year
Healthy Eating for the Whole Family: The DASH diet recommends foods to include, not food to restrict, so every member of your family can enjoy DASH friendly recipes.
Sustainable Nutrition: The DASH diet doesn’t recommend any stages, week long fasts, or set schedules. Following this healthy eating pattern is easy to do, wherever and whenever, in every season. Plus, milk is one of the most local foods you can buy and choosing seasonal fruits and vegetables helps support a sustainable diet.
Affordable and Accessible: Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, and beans are easy to find at your local market and require no specials memberships, fees, or orders. Looking for a more regimented program? Consider setting an order for grocery pick-up or home delivery. Keeping fresh foods in your fridge makes food prep easier, and diets more fun to follow.
Interested in learning more? Visit DashDiet.org for diet details or U.S. News and World Report for a longer list of the best diets of 2017.