Mind and Body

DASH diet tops list for third year in a row

For the record, I am against fad diets unless they are somehow medically necessary.

The only fad diet I ever went on was the Slim Fast diet, and I did it as a formerly very slim person who gained 15 pounds while working full-time and attending college full-time.


That's a recipe for either losing a lot of weight from not eating, or gaining it due to late night eating, college cafeteria food and not having time for breakfast but making it up by having pizza at 10 a.m. at work (a personal favorite of mine.)

So a few months before my post-graduation wedding (I was an older student) I did the Slim Fast diet and it worked. Yes, I went to bed hungry at night but I lost a sensible 1-2 pounds per week and walked down the aisle trim and slim.

Fast-forward 10 years and I'm now a solid size 8. Not so bad for being in my early 40s and three kids later, but I never did a diet like that again. I simply eat well, watch my calories (the most important part of keeping weight under control) and exercise to keep my body healthy and enjoy some good old healthy competition on the tennis courts!

An occasional pig-out is also allowed; in fact, my dress size doesn't really matter and nor should it. It's how I feel, my level of exercise and the nutritional content of my food. It's not easy, but it's doable.

But some of these "fad" diets can be a good kick-start to losing weight. Most aren't viable for life. They are simply not sustainable but they can motivate one to lose weight and then learn how to control eating, make healthy choices and take exercise.

U.S. News and World Report have come out with their list of best diets and diet plans.

For the third year in a row, the DASH diet has been chosen as the best. This diet stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" and is essentially a diet to ensure a healthy heart and low blood pressure.

What I like most about this diet is that it really isn't one. It's just a healthy way to eat, incorporating a lot of fruits and vegetables into one's diet, plenty of fiber, lean protein from meats and also eating nuts, legumes and limited dairy products.

What's not to like?

Vegetarians can easily adapt this diet by substituting soy for meat (especially fermented soy which is healthier than processed soy, as well as delicious tempeh) and other high-protein vegetarian substitutes.

This diet incorporates plain old common sense with an emphasis on keeping sodium levels in your diet low. There aren't any processed meals coming to your door (many that would be abysmally high in salt) that can cost more than going to the local grocery store and farmer's market.

Another diet that fared well in the opinion of U.S. News and World Report was the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet (formulated by the same organization that created the DASH diet -- the National Institutes of Health).

That was followed by three diets which tied for third place -- the always-healthy Mediterranean Diet (have you seen the glowing skin, hair and nails of people who live in the Mediterranean regions?), the Mayo Clinic Diet, and Weight Watchers.

EmpowHER has received many, many question on what diets are good, especially for the menopausal and perimenopausal times of life that tend to see the girlish waistlines disappear and belly fat appear, becoming almost impossible to lose.

One area of fat that's considered the most dangerous for our hearts is called visceral fat, which is belly fat. We have an interesting thread on this topic, including a 7-year study about the dangers of belly fat that can be read here.


A devout vegetarian for two decades, Susan Cody likes to write and research about health care, politics, history, parenting and pop culture.