Few diets can claim to shed pounds, combat diabetes and lower blood pressure all in one healthy package. The DASH diet not only makes that claim, but backs it up with tangible results—and in terms of "diet crazes," it's the hottest thing going.
Just in time for bikini season, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) plan was recently ranked at the top of the list by U.S. News & World Report, beating out nearly two dozen diet plan competitors, including such weight-loss heavy hitters as Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast and Atkins. The DASH plan scored high for its success in short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, nutritional completeness, and best commercial diet plan. The diet plan also received top marks for improving heart health and fighting diabetes.
So just what is this miracle diet? Originally designed to lower blood pressure, the DASH diet plan emphasizes fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and nuts while limiting fats and sweets. Daily excercise is also an important tool in the DASH diet plan arsenal. Here are a few tips to help you get started, plus a few recipes that fit the DASH diet bill. For more information, visit dashdiet.org.
- Add more color to your plate at every meal—more red (tomatoes, radicchio, beets), orange (carrots), purple (eggplant), yellow (summer squash) and green (lettuce, broccoli, snap peas).
- Eat nonfat yogurt for breakfast and at snack times.
- Try skim milk in your morning coffee in place of cream.
- Eat more nuts—but choose the salt-free variety.
- Tired of oatmeal and barley? Try interesting new whole grains, like farro and quinoa.
- Replace those 100-calorie bags of chips with ready-to-eat fresh vegetables and fruit plus a low-fat dip. Rule of thumb: If it grows on a vine, bush, in the ground or on a tree, choose it over chips.
—By Stacey Norwood