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.
“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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