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DASH Diet’s Marla Heller Suggests it May Not be Sexy, but it Makes Sense

Last week the DASH Diet wasn’t exactly a household name, although it should have been. Since US News and World Report announced its Best Diets of 2012, DASH Diet is about all anyone can talk about, or search for online.

“It was exciting to see it happen again,” Marla Heller, MS, RD told us this morning about learning that DASH Diet had received the top recognition from US News for the second time in six months. “The first time it happened last summer was over the top.”

Her book, The DASH Diet Action Plan, was the result of research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “My patients couldn’t really understand [the information]. I knew I needed to break it down,” she told us about publishing the book.

She says it’s been a challenge to get the word out about the healthy eating plan, citing its only likely downfall is “that it doesn’t have the sex appeal of a fad diet.”

If lacking sex appeal, or even a slimmed-down celebrity endorser, is the DASH Diet’s only negative attribute, we have to ask, why aren’t more people on it? Heller and I discussed how a “diet” has come to be revered as a packaged set of rules and organized eating instructions. However, most health experts will agree that the real definition of a diet is just what you eat. Which is why Heller proudly calls her DASH Diet an eating plan.

“It’s just common sense,” she said. “Not enough people have any idea how to put together healthy meals.” She says DASH Diet can re-educate.
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TLC Diet Best for Lowering Cholesterol

U.S. News & World Report just added diets to its year-end best-of list. The number one spot for this year is held by the DASH diet. While that may be getting much of the publicity, right behind it at number two is another catchy-sounding plan: the TLC diet.

One thing both diets have in common is they were created by divisions of the National Institutes of Health, with the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet (TLC) being created by the NIH’s National Cholesterol Education Program.

Since government health agencies aren’t in the business of creating or endorsing fad diets, you can expect a no-frills approach. And since this one was created by a program related to cholesterol, healthy levels of cholesterol are a central goal.

Endorsed by the American Heart Association, the TLC diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by minimizing fat, particularly the saturated variety found in meat, fried foods and whole-milk dairy. These foods increase your levels of LDL, or bad, cholesterol and your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
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Simple Recipe Guide for New DASH Diet Followers

This week, US News & World Report made its Best Diets 2012 announcement, naming the DASH  (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) Diet the best overall diet. There are a lot of choices for people who want to lose weight using a structured weight reduction plan, and while there is no “one-size fits all” approach, Diets In Review’s resident pharmacist Dr. Sarah Khan considers the DASH Diet an ideal weight loss plan for diabetics.

People who follow the DASH diet will work on lowering sodium intake to less than 2400 mg per day, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, chicken, whole grains and healthy fats like nuts and olive oil. With endorsements from the American Heart Association, The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Mayo Clinic, the DASH diet is a great option for anyone who wants to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight or consume less sodium.

“We often recommend the DASH diet for diabetics,” said Dr. Khan. “Diabetics should also focus on a low-sodium diet with less than 2,000 mg of salt per day. High blood pressure tends to go hand in hand with diabetics and we are more aggressive with their blood pressure control because of all the complications it could cause if we let it become too high.”

When you’re beginning the DASH diet, be sure to stock your kitchen with plenty of fresh, unprocessed foods, especially fruits and vegetables. If you’re kicking off your diet in January, look for seasonal fruit like oranges, apples, pears, and pomegranates. Instead of sticking to salads, look for unusual or unique produce like kale, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi to liven up your vegetable rotation. Stock the pantry with plenty of whole grains and avoid white or refined flour and sugar.

To help you kick off your DASH Diet we’ve pulled together some of our favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes, including a few snacks, to help you start on the right track.
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DASH Diet Tops the US News Best Diets of 2012 List

carrots, mushroom, broccoli and tomatoStarting last year, U.S. News and World Report added diets to its suite of rankings, along with colleges and cars. This year, the panel has named the DASH diet the best overall diet of 2012. DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, but that doesn’t mean it’s just for people who suffer from high blood pressure. “I think the DASH diet is really more than a diet,” says Dr. Sarah Khan. “It’s a complete lifestyle change that focuses on lean meats and proteins, low fat, low sodium, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. It’s just an all-encompassing bag of good choices.”

The DASH diet aims to lower blood pressure by increasing your intake of certain nutrients while decreasing your sodium. “Because it increases the potassium and calcium in your diet, that in and of itself lowers blood pressure,” says registered dietitian Mary Hartley. “Those minerals have a role in maintaining the correct water and electrolyte balance.” She adds that many fruits and vegetables are loaded with potassium, which is why they are emphasized in the DASH Diet.

Being overweight will increase your risk of high blood pressure, but the DASH diet will only lead to weight loss if you have the proper caloric intake. “It is a diet for good health,” says Hartley. “Now, if you want to lose weight, you’re going to follow the DASH Diet but eat less of it, because you have to make a calorie deficit.” Mary recommends eating the number of calories that are necessary to maintain your ideal weight rather than drastically reducing your calories for a short period of time. “They’ll lose if they eat the calories needed for their ideal weight, they’ll just lose more slowly.”


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DASH Diet, Biggest Loser, and Weight Watchers Receive Top Ranks in US News Best Diets 2012

US News and World Report made its Best Diets 2012 announcement today. The list by the high profile news magazine started last year, with Weight Watchers taking the top spot.

Released today, DASH Diet gets the highest marks on the list, being named the best overall diet. We wouldn’t disagree. In fact, our resident pharmacist and diabetes specialist, Dr. Sarah G. Khan, wrote in November that the DASH Diet is an ideal weight loss plan for diabetics. “The DASH diet consists of lowering sodium intake to less than 2400 mg per day, eating fresh fruits and vegetables and carbohydrate sources coming from whole grains,” wrote Dr. Khan. “It also includes proteins coming from lean meats, fish and chicken, and moderate amounts of fats such as olive oil and nuts.” Dr. Khan also notes endorsements for the diet from the American Heart Association, The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the Mayo Clinic.

DASH wasn’t the only program getting high praise and attention today.

The US News and World Report Best Diets 2012 also breaks the diets down in to multiple categories, naming the best diets for weight loss, heart health, diabetes, and even the easiest to follow.

The Best Diets 2012 list is as follows.
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