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The DASH diet grabbed the top spot in best overall diet in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Diets 2012, which also rates other popular diets in various categories. DASH diet plan also took top ranking as the best diet for healthy eating and the best diabetes diet (tied with the Biggest Loser diet).

DASH  diet which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension offers the best overall nutrition, focuses on lowering blood pressure by reducing sodium intake and encouraging a healthy mix of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables rich in vitamins like potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

In DASH diet the number of servings of grains, vegetables, dairy and other food types that a person should eat daily, based on their calorie needs are prescribed. It suggests high amounts of fiber, potassium and magnesium, and keeps sweets to a minimum.

If you need to lower your high blood pressure, then incorporate the DASH diet into your lifestyle. Doctors recommend:

  • Eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods
  • Cutting back on foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat
  • Eating more whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts
  • Eating less red meat and sweets
  • Eating foods that are rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium

The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is an example of such an eating plan. In studies, patients who were on the DASH diet reduced their blood pressure within two weeks. Another diet — DASH-Sodium — calls for reducing sodium (salt) to 1,500 mg a day (about 2/3 teaspoon). Studies of patients on the DASH-Sodium plan significantly lowered their blood pressure.

When starting the DASH diet, start slowly and make gradual changes. Consider adopting a diet plan that allows 2,400 milligrams of salt per day (about 1 teaspoon) and then once your body has adjusted to the diet further lower your salt intake to 1,500 mg per day (about 2/3 teaspoon). These amounts include all salt consumed, including that in food products, used in cooking, and added at the table.

Here are some tips to get you started on the DASH diet:

  • Add a serving of vegetables at lunch and at dinner.
  • Add a serving of fruit to your meals or as a snack. Canned and dried fruits are easy to use.
  • Use only half the butter, margarine, or salad dressing, and use low-fat or fat-free condiments.
  • Drink low-fat or skim dairy products three times a day.
  • Limit meat to six ounces a day. Try eating some vegetarian meals.
  • Add more vegetables, rice, pasta, and dry beans to your diet.
  • Instead of typical snacks (chips, etc.), eat unsalted pretzels or nuts, raisins, graham crackers, low-fat and fat-free yogurt and frozen yogurt; unsalted plain popcorn with no butter, and raw vegetables.
  • Read food labels carefully to choose products that are lower in sodium.

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