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DASH takes top honors in U.S. News diet ranking

And the winner is … the DASH diet! That eating plan, often recommended to help adults lower their blood pressure, topped more popular options in a ranking of 20 diets by U.S. News & World Report. The DASH diet, the magazine concluded, was the best overall.

The magazine’s panel of nutrition experts chose the government-approved Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension for, among other things, being nutritious, easy to follow and protecting against heart disease and perhaps diabetes. And in doing so, the panel offered explainers and analyses of brand-name eating plans that we’ve all heard of but, in reality, might know very little about.

DASH is chock-full of the fruits, vegetables and high-fiber and high-protein foods that well-publicized weight-loss plans hold in high esteem, as the magazine points out. You can see a sample day of meal plans here. But DASH is very serious about cutting sodium—no more than one teaspoon of salt per day. So forget salted pretzels or baked potato chips as a snack.

The long-term heart benefits are clear, according to the magazine’s low-down on the diet:

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“Rigorous studies show DASH can lower blood pressure, which, if too high, can trigger heart disease, heart failure and stroke.”

DASH’s nutritious, no-food-groups-banned qualities could likely make it work well for weight loss as well. But it’s not the go-to diet for dropping a jean size in a few weeks. DASH was ranked only eighth in the weight-loss diet category. There, Weight Watchers took top honors, followed by Jenny Craig and the raw food diet in second. The first two recently topped Consumer Report’s diet guide.

As for the raw food diet, it’s inclusion may come as a surprise to the more traditional dieters out there. But, based as it is on the discipline of avoiding everything cooked, processed or microwaved, the diet does seem to help followers lose weight—if in part because raw fooders simply consume far fewer calories than they would otherwise. But take note: The diet doesn’t get very high marks for being safe, nutritious, inexpensive or easy to follow.

It’s worth noting that, at the end of the day, sensible eating plans such as DASH hold their own against even the trendiest diets.

And if you’re looking for a ranking of best diabetes diets, best heart-healthy diets and best commercial diet plans, U.S. News & World Report has you covered.

healthkey@tribune.com

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