DASH to a Wellness Plan

January 18, 2012

DASH to a Wellness Plan

During the course of my daily work, I frequently receive consumer questions.  Many of the questions concern the latest food, juice or weight loss plan advertised on infomercials, TV shows, books, magazines, or TV news. (The number of questions has declined a little since Oprah no longer has a daily TV show).  Imagine my surprise when I read a news story that U.S. News and World Report magazine rated the DASH diet as the number one diet.

Why was I surprised? The DASH diet has solid research and it is has been the USDA plan for the 2005 Food Pyramid and now the 2011 MyPlate.  Since it was introduced in 1997, it is a food pattern that Registered Dietitians (RD) have been teaching to patients and clients with heart disease, weight issues, or to prevent heart disease, cancer, or  to maintain weight.  The original research team continued with successful follow-up studies published over the next 10 years.

In case you were wondering, the TLC diet, another research-based plan, came in second. And Weight Watchers was also highly rated.

So what is the DASH plan? DASH is an abbreviation for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.  The original research was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) – your tax dollars hard at work for you!  It was conducted at four different medical centers across the United States.  At the time of the research, it was established that calcium, potassium and magnesium help to lower blood pressure along with reduced sodium intake.  So the researchers developed a food patter high in the good stuff (calcium, potassium and magnesium) and low in the bad stuff (sodium). It also was high in protein and fiber.  A booklet on the DASH research and plan is available.

The daily DASH eating plan includes:

  • Four servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Two to three servings of low fat or fat free dairy products
  • Six to eight ounces of meat
  • Three to five servings per week of nuts, seeds and legumes (beans such as navy, kidney, garbanzo, black beans, etc.)

It’s simple to obtain your personal plan:

  1. Go to www.choosemyplate.gov
  2. Click “Create your profile”
  3. Enter your personal information re: height, weight, etc.
  4. Click “View your plan” to activate the “My Coach Center.” There you’ll see a box in the upper right side with your daily calorie limit and daily food group targets.
  5. If you click on more information under the, “Daily Food Group Targets,” you’ll receive a more detailed plan with information on food groups and serving sizes.

Prior to last week, this information was only two clicks away. Now it takes a little more, but is still doable, especially for the “computer generation”. And I guarantee it’s worth your time to DASH to a wellness plan. Remember, it’s your tax dollars at work for you!

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