What’s So Special About the DASH Diet?

Healthy Recipes and Nutrition, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Plans
on March 27, 2012

The DASH Diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, and whole-grain products. It is reduced in red meat, animal fats, and sugar. “What’s so special about that?” you ask. “My parents were telling me to eat that way years ago.” True. But what’s different about DASH is that we have determined through research the combination of servings from each of eight key food groups you should eat each day. And the number of servings differs depending on your size and calorie needs. We will give you the specific number of food servings that are right for you.

Another thing that’s special about the DASH Diet is that it is recommended as an ideal eating pattern for all American adults by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The American Heart Associa- tion recommends the DASH Diet, too. And in 2011, a team of nutri- tion experts rated twenty popular diets for U.S. News & World Report and selected the DASH Diet as the number one best overall diet.

But it isn’t high rankings that make the DASH Diet so special. It is special because it is backed by a mass of scientific proof that shows that eating the DASH Diet can provide real and important health benefits.

The DASH Diet was designed by a team of medical and nutrition scientists and funded by the National Institutes of Health. Our goal was to design an eating pattern that would lower blood pressure. (The name “DASH” stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.) We spent a full year designing the diet and then tested it in a study involving 459 people. We found that the DASH Diet lowered blood pressure as well as a typical high blood pressure medication did. We published those results in the New England Journal of Medicine, and the DASH Diet is now part of most standard guidelines for preventing and treating high blood pressure here in the United States and around the world.

As we looked more closely at the data, we found that the DASH Diet did more than just lower blood pressure. It also lowered blood cholesterol levels. And it showed evidence of protecting bone strength. People eating the DASH Diet even reported that they felt better!

Since that original study, our team and others have found additional benefits of the DASH Diet. In fact, there are now more than 100 scientific articles that attest to the benefits of eating the DASH Diet. To mention just a few:

  • The DASH Diet combined with a reduced salt intake lowers blood pressure even more than either maneuver alone.
  • The DASH Diet prevents the onset of high blood pressure.
  • The DASH Diet reduces the occurrence of heart attacks (by
  • 18 percent) and strokes (by 24 percent). ␣
  • It reduces the risk of developing heart failure by 37 percent.
  • It reduces the development of kidney stones by 45 percent.
  • It reduces the risk of developing colon cancer by 20 percent.
  • It reduces the risk of developing diabetes (a very important benefit at this time, when the frequency of diabetes in America is
  • skyrocketing).
  • It even helps people think more clearly!


There is more scientific evidence to support the DASH Diet than any other eating pattern. And that’s why it is recommended by the USDA, the American Heart Association, U.S. News & World Report, and others. But I always tell my patients, don’t be impressed that the DASH Diet is so highly rated—be impressed with the evidence that inspired those ratings. The DASH Diet truly is the eating pattern that will protect your health for life.


Excerpted from THE DASH DIET FOR WEIGHT LOSS: Lose Weight And Keep It Off—the Healthy Way—With America’s Most Respected Diet by Dr. Thomas J. Moore. Copyright 2012 by Dr. Thomas J. Moore.  Published by Free Press. Available at Barnes & Noble or http://www.barnesandnoble.com/.