IN AUGUST 1993, fifty researchers gathered together in an overheated hotel conference room in Bethesda, Maryland, to design what would come to be known as the DASH study.
The initials “DASH” stand for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The fifty researchers represented five research teams. There was Laura Svetkey, MD, and her team from Duke; George Bray, MD, and his team from the Pennington Center in Louisiana; Larry Appel, MD, and his team from Johns Hopkins; Bill Vollmer, PhD, and his team from Oregon Health Sciences Center; and my team from Harvard. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute had selected these five teams from among forty applicants. Our task was to design an eating pattern that would lower blood pressure.
The teams had never worked together before. In fact, most of us did not even know one another. But it became clear from the very beginning that we were willing and eager to work together to design the “perfect” diet. By the end of that first meeting, we had agreed on a rough outline of the diets we would test and how we would test them. And I was honored that the group had selected me as the chairman of the overall study.
But it took another twelve months before we were ready to start testing the first research volunteer. That’s how long it took to design a study as complex and tightly controlled as the DASH study. DASH was a “feeding study”—that means we gave the research volunteers all of their food for the entire eleven weeks of the study. Volunteers were going to be studied simultaneously in North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana, and Massachusetts. To be sure that the study was being conducted in the same way at all four sites and that the subjects at all sites were eating the same foods, we prepared careful menus and recipes that would be served in each location. We even worked with food companies that agreed to ship food items (such as bread, crackers, soup, and fruit) from the same production batch to all of our four sites so that the study volunteers were in fact eating identical foods. Samples of each recipe and meal were prepared, ground up, and chemically analyzed so that we were sure exactly what was in the foods. In addition, researchers at each site received identical training on how to measure blood pressure, how to weigh subjects, and how to measure body fat. We wanted to be absolutely sure that all four sites were feeding subjects the same food and measuring the effects of the diet in an identical way.
Once the study was designed, the four sites enrolled 459 volunteers in two and a half years. We tested three different diets. One third of the subjects ate a typical American diet. One third of the subjects ate a typical American diet enriched in fruits and vegetables. And the rest of the subjects received what is now called the DASH Diet. When the results were analyzed, the DASH Diet lowered systolic blood pressure by nearly 11 points—about as much as a typical antihypertensive medication and, in fact, far more than we researchers expected.
Since we first published these results in 1997 in the New England Journal of Medicine, many other studies have shown additional benefits of the DASH Diet. We know that it lowers blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, but we also now know that the DASH Diet reduces the development of hypertension, heart failure, heart attacks, and kidney stones, and even reduces the risk of developing colon cancer. Studies have shown that people who eat the DASH Diet “feel better.” One study even showed that the DASH Diet improves the ability to think clearly! And—most important for this book—the DASH Diet has also proven to be a very effective tool for those who want to lose weight.
So although DASH started off as a diet to lower blood pressure, with all this additional scientific evidence, the US Department of Agriculture now recommends the DASH Diet as the ideal eating pattern for all Americans. And a recent U.S. News & World Report ranking rated the DASH Diet as the “#1 Best Overall Diet” when compared to twenty other popular diets such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and South Beach.
But I often hear the comment, “It’s fine that the DASH Diet shows all those benefits when it’s tested in a study where volunteers are being given all of their food by the study staff. But how does the DASH Diet work in real life, when people need to select and prepare their own food?”
We’re happy to say that it works just fine. Dietitians and nutritionists routinely recommend the DASH Diet to people who are interested in improving their eating habits, who have specific medical conditions that would benefit from DASH, and who want to lose weight. People like the DASH Diet because it is easy to understand. It is about real foods, not special supplements or meals that you have to buy from a specific manufacturer. You can shop for the DASH Diet at the same stores where you’ve always shopped, and it allows you to follow either a meat-eater or vegetarian diet.
The DASH Diet started out as a tightly controlled scientific study but has turned into something much larger. Doctors, nutritionists, government agencies, and organizations such as the American Heart Association are recommending the DASH Diet. Now we want to get the 150 million Americans who would benefit from the DASH Diet to try it and stick with it.
We hope this book will be part of that solution.
Lose Weight and Keep It Off--the Healthy Way--with America's Most Respected Diet
The DASH Diet for Weight Loss
Lose Weight and Keep It Off--the Healthy Way--with America's Most Respected Diet
Unlike most diets, the DASH Diet is based on favorite foods you can find at the grocery store around the corner. It’s easy to follow, it won’t leave you hungry, and it’s built for long-lasting results. It’s also America’s healthiest diet. And people on the DASH Diet feel better and think more clearly. That’s because, also unlike most diets, the DASH Diet was originally developed by a team of medical researchers who were funded by the NIH and led by Dr. Thomas Moore. The team’s goal was to create a diet to lower blood pressure (DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and they came up with an easy eating plan that has since been proven to lower high blood pressure and reduce the development of hypertension, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and kidney stones, as well as reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. And the researchers noticed something else along with these incredible medical benefits: while eating a varied, hearty diet of nutritious foods, people on the DASH Diet also were able to lose weight and maintain that healthy weight loss over time. Named the Best Overall Diet by U.S. News & World Report two years in a row and recommended by the US Department of Agriculture as an ideal eating pattern for all Americans, the DASH Diet is easy to follow and allows you to choose the foods you like. Now, based on new data from Dr. Moore’s continuing research, The DASH Diet for Weight Loss adapts the DASH Diet for anyone who wants to reach his or her healthiest weight. You’ll learn how to calculate calorie targets and learn what counts as a serving; how to add exercise to the diet; how to keep a food log, plan a menu, and adapt favorite recipes for the DASH Diet. And you’ll learn how to keep off the weight you lost.
With versions for meat-eaters and vegetarians, the DASH Diet is a plan you can stick to because it offers a wide selection of your favorite foods, not special supplements or meals that you have to buy from a specific manufacturer. You’ll read inspiring before-and-after stories by others who have experienced success with DASH. And you’ll find extensive meal plans at the calorie level that is just right for you, concentrating on how to lose weight without sacrificing great-tasting foods. You can reach your goal to lose weight and keep it off by following America’s healthiest diet. The DASH Diet for Weight Loss will show you how.
• NAMED THE BEST OVERALL DIET BY U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT TWO YEARS IN A ROW
• RECOMMENDED BY THE US DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AS AN IDEAL EATING PATTERN FOR ALL AMERICANS
• ENDORSED BY THE NATIONAL HEART, LUNG, AND BLOOD INSTITUTE AND THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION (AHA)
• MEAL PLANS PROVIDED AT MULTIPLE CALORIE LEVELS (SO THERE’S ONE THAT’S RIGHT FOR ALL READERS) AND FOR MEAT-EATERS AND VEGETARIANS ALIKE
START THE DASH DIET THE EASY WAY WITH ONE OF OUR SIMPLE, SUBSTANTIAL MEAL PLANS:
1,600 CALORIES: DAY 5
Target: 6 grain, 4 fruit, 4 vegetable, 2 dairy, 1½ meat, ¼ nuts/seeds/legumes,
1 added fat, ½ sweets
BREAKFAST (340 CALORIES)
1 Low-Fat Blueberry Muffin (see recipe), 2 grain (200 calories)
½ cup raspberries, 1 fruit (30 calories)
1 cup low-fat milk, 1 dairy (110 calories)
MORNING SNACK (160 CALORIES)
1 cup sliced mango, 2 fruit (110 calories)
¾ ounce (1 small slice) low-fat cheddar cheese, ½ dairy (50 calories)
LUNCH (325 CALORIES)
1 Cobb Salad (see recipe), 4 vegetable, ½ dairy, ½ meat, 1 added fat (225 calories)
1 small chocolate chip granola bar, 1 grain (100 calories)
AFTERNOON SNACK (160 CALORIES)
“Ants on a log”:
4 celery sticks (5 inches each), 1 vegetable (5 calories)
1 tablespoon peanut butter, ½ nuts/seeds/legumes (100 calories)
2 tablespoons raisins, ½ fruit (55 calories)
DINNER (445 CALORIES)
Shrimp Scampi, 3 ounces shrimp with sauce (see recipe), 1 meat (145 calories)
1½ cups whole-wheat linguine, 3 grain (300 calories)
EVENING SNACK/DESSERT (105 CALORIES)
1 medium apple, 1 fruit (50 calories)
2 tablespoons low-fat caramel sauce, ½ sweets (55 calories)
Nutrition analysis for the day: 1,535 calories, 6 grain, 4½ fruit, 5 vegetable, 2 dairy, 1½ meat, ½ nuts/seeds/legumes, 1 added fat, ½ sweets