The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet may be America’s healthiest and stealthiest diet. You may not have heard about it, but you should know about it.

Launched in 1993, the DASH diet involved researchers at four centers around the USA. This “feeding study” provided food to 459 participants with an average age of 46. The study compared a control representing the average American diet with both a produce-heavy regimen and DASH. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, while grains, poultry and fish, and restricted red meat, saturated fats, and sweets.

The winner? The DASH diet proved to be the most effective of the three, lowering blood pressure by an average of 5.5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) – the standard unit for blood pressure – for systolic pressure (top number) and 3 mm Hg for diastolic pressure (bottom number). The decline was even greater among those with high-blood pressure and for African-Americans. Three follow-up studies examined the factors making DASH effective, and aimed to see if if could be further improved. Those studies controlled other factors – lowering salt and substituting greater amounts of healthy fats and protein for carbohydrates, and testing different types of carbohydrates. The DASH-sodium diet found that pairing the DASH diet with lower salt – 1,500 milligrams per day – could cut blood pressure by an average of 8.9/4.5 mm Hg, and 11.5/5.7 mm Hg among those with high-blood pressure.

And now you know. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter. If you want to learn more, hit the Wellness! Button on the top left of this page. And to follow the blog, head to the comments section, and sign up. Thank you!

Harvard Gazette (November 3, 2017)