The US News and World Report recently completed a study comparing twenty different diet programs, including high-profile plans such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. While many people, including celebrities, swear by designer diets for weight loss, the study showed that the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which (according to the DASH diet website) “was developed by the US National Institute of Health to lower blood pressure without medication,” was more effective and safe than many other diet plans.
The study of various diets included many different criteria: the top contenders had to be “nutritious, safe, and effective for weight loss against diabetes and heart disease.” That’s a tall order to fill, but the DASH diet, which was designed specifically for people battling hypertension, seems to be a good fit for many people, including those interested in weight loss.
Some of the specific foods emphasized in the DASH diet include: “fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains, lean meats, fish, and poultry, and nuts and beans. It is high fiber and low to moderate in fat [and] it is a healthy way of eating, designed to be flexible enough to meet the lifestyle and food preferences of most people.”
I am skeptical of most “diets” because of their limited food choices and obsession with calorie counting, but the DASH diet seems more like common sense than anything else. Fruits and veggies, whole grains, limited fats. Add that to plenty of exercise and it seems like an obvious recipe for success.
The amazing thing here is not that DASH works, but rather that a study needed to be completed in order to come to that conclusion. Humans must eat a wide variety of foods in order to meet our nutritional needs, and home-cooked food is often more nutritious and healthier than pre-packaged meals (such as those produced by Weight Watchers).
For people looking to change their diet for any reason, whether it be nutritional needs, health concerns, or a desire to lose weight, I would recommend the DASH diet, which takes the focus away from our fast food and designer diet mentality and zeros in on what humans really need: real food that will keep us healthy and happy.