Though the DASH Diet — short for dietary approaches to stop hypertension — was created by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to help lower blood pressure, it can also result in weight loss, lower cholesterol, and even help manage and prevent diabetes. It must be worthwhile because this is the sixth year in a row the U.S. News & World Report has voted it the best overall diet in its annual report. The diet is described by its creators as "a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps creates a heart-healthy eating style for life."
There are no special rules to follow, or different, exotic foods to eat. Instead, the diet recommends eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, including some low-fat dairy products, animal proteins, legumes, beans, and vegetable oil. Dieters are recommended they limit foods high in saturated fat, as well as sugar-sweetened drinks and candies — standard for healthy eating.
To win the number one spot, according to Huffington Post, the diet had to "be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe and effective for weight loss and preventing diabetes and heart disease."
Not only did the DASH Diet place first in the overall category, but it was also recognized in the categories for "Best Diet for Healthy Eating," "Best Diabetes Diets," "Best Heart-Healthy Diets," "Easiest Diets to Follow," and a 12th-place tie for "Best Weight-Loss Diets."
When ranking the diet on pros and cons, U.S. News & World Report said the diet was heart-healthy and nutritionally balanced, but required lots of grunt work and could be somewhat pricey.
If you're looking to adopt the DASH Diet as part of your New Year’s resolutions, the NHLBI has two free brochures for you: one is 64 pages long, while the other is just six. Both go through the process of explaining how many calories one should eat based on their personal age and activity level; what foods those calories should come from; and let you know salt is your enemy.
At the bottom of the list is the Whole30 diet, a 30-day eating regimen in which legumes, grains, dairy, alcohol, added sugar, and processed foods are forbidden. Being at the bottom of the list doesn't deter co-creator Melissa Hartwig, who told MedicineNet, "The point [of Whole30] is to use those 30 days to eliminate foods that can cause digestive and inflammatory issues, and then re-introduce certain food groups one at a time to identify which ones make someone feel badly, so they can make informed choices for themselves going forward."
Regardless of what diet you decide to start, know there is no such thing as a "perfect diet." You must choose the foods and methods of eating which work best for you.