No more Mediterranean? DASH diet is now the top heart healthy eating plan

BATON ROUGE, La. — Move over Mediterranean diet, there’s a new eating plan the American Heart Association is recommending. Their latest scientific statement declared the DASH diet as the best heart-healthy diet for reducing high blood pressure.

The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Its effectiveness in improving heart health was first published in 1997 and has since been cited roughly 6,000 times by other researchers. The diet was developed, in part, at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

The DASH Diet is a great choice because it is proven to help those with a history of heart disease or people with diabetes, but it is really a diet plan for everyone because it is easy to follow, and it can work for anyone in the family,” says Dr. Catherine Champagne, a professor and registered dietitian nutritionist at Pennington Biomedical, in a media release.

DASH diet received a perfect score in an assessment on how popular dietary patterns adhere to the American Heart Association’s Dietary Guidance. The guidelines emphasize limiting unhealthy fats and excess carbohydrates. Doing so improves a person’s heart and metabolic health as well as reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The guidance also takes into account a person’s grocery budget, along with personal and cultural preferences.

Older woman eating salad, following healthy diet and lifestyle
Woman eating a salad (© Prostock-studio –

“The number of different, popular dietary patterns has proliferated in recent years, and the amount of misinformation about them on social media has reached critical levels,” adds Christopher D. Gardner, chair of the writing committee for the new scientific statement and the Rehnborg Farquhar professor of medicine at Stanford University.

“The public—and even many health care professionals—may rightfully be confused about heart healthy eating, and they may feel that they don’t have the time or the training to evaluate the different diets. We hope this statement serves as a tool for clinicians and the public to understand which diets promote good cardiometabolic health.”

The DASH diet does not require you to eat a specific food. Instead, it encourages people to look for food low in salt, as well as limiting excess sugar, alcohol, tropical oils, and processed foods. The eating plan also encourages people to consume non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Protein mainly comes from plant sources such as legumes, beans, and nuts, but can also include fish or seafood, lean poultry, and meats, as well as low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

The study is published in the journal Circulation.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

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  1. The focus on individual health ignores group health, economy, society behaviour. Essential!
    There are vast differences between predators and herbivores in nature. Are people apex predators? Many thriving human herbivore cultures prove it is nurture not nature. How about environmental health: hugely improved by plant-based nutrition. Takes over 3 x less land, water.
    DASH diets are very good, but focus is wrong: we are exceeding the holding capacity of Earth. What was fine yesteryear with fewer people and ample nature no longer is, population pressure exceed natural regeneration. Time for public education on the benefits of plant-based food and charges on the size of people’s footprint instead of subsidies for unsustainable practices.

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