Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to the DASH diet in eight categories by nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and heart disease, and other diet experts on a ratings panel assembled by U.S. News. (See our Best Diets methodology.) DASH as an approach for lowering high blood pressure has been studied extensively, so high scores in heart health, nutritional completeness, and safety were unsurprising. It also did reasonably well as a weight-loss diet, although it wasn’t designed for that purpose. The experts’ ratings added up to an overall rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars, making DASH the top-ranked diet. Below, ratings in all categories and how the experts’ opinions broke down.
Short-Term Weight Loss
The DASH diet was rated at 3.2 stars, around the middle of the pack. It is not designed as a weight-loss diet, but the experts noted that a healthful menu promotes weight loss by letting dieters eat more while consuming fewer calories. The DASH diet scored as well as many other diets did that specifically promise weight loss.
Long-Term Weight Loss
Although more than a few experts noted that they’d like to see long-term weight-loss studies examining DASH, they gave the diet a score of 3 stars, which we define as “moderately effective.” That is better than many other diets in this category.
Easy to Follow
It’s not difficult, nor is it a piece of cake, according to our experts. A limited-salt diet is foreign to the American palate and there’s little structured support if you have questions, but dieters shouldn’t feel hungry. All pros and cons considered, it’s moderately easy to follow at about 3 stars. That’s better than many other diets.
Mirroring the federal government's 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the diet came in at No. 1 in this category. The majority of panelists gave it the maximum of 5. Experts called the approach a “gold standard” and “nutritionally sound.”
In considering the health risks that a diet might pose, here, too, the DASH diet excelled, receiving nearly all 5s from the panelists. The experts couldn’t find much of anything to worry about.
Of the 29 diets that experts rated, DASH was considered a top choice for preventing or controlling diabetes—its menu looks a lot like widely accepted nutritional guidelines for those with the condition. DASH tied for first place with Biggest Loser in this category. Several other diets lagged a full star or more behind.
For Heart Health
A score of 4.3 stars for heart health indicated experts' appreciation for the DASH diet’s potential to lower blood pressure and improve other markers of heart health. That assessment placed DASH near the top in this category.
Last updated by Kurtis Hiatt | December 01, 2012
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