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DASH: Ranked best diet

By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Jan. 19, 2018 

Fast Facts:

  • In ‘U.S. News and World Report’s’ best diets list, DASH diet ranked No. 1
  • The DASH developed to help prevent, lower high blood pressure
  • The diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains, limits sodium. 

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LITTLE ROCK – As millions of Americans commit to becoming healthier versions of themselves in the new year, U.S. News and World Report released its rankings of the best diets. The DASH diet took the top spot as the best diet overall. The ranking is based on nutritional value, short and long-term weight loss effects and how easy it is to follow.                        

The DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to help prevent and lower high blood pressure. 

In late 2017, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines (See:  about what is considered high blood pressure. Under the new guidelines, about 46 percent of Americans are estimated to have high blood pressure. 

“High blood pressure increases your risk for dangerous health conditions,” said Carla Hadley, Miller County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “These include a first heart attack, first stroke, chronic heart failure and kidney disease.” 

The DASH diet focuses on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains while avoiding foods that are high in saturated fats and sodium to ensure that those that follow the diet are getting the nutrients like potassium, protein, fiber and calcium, needed for fighting high blood pressure. 

A major cornerstone of the plan is reducing sodium, which can be tricky as many processed foods like chips, cookies, pretzels, canned soups and bottled salad dressings often contain large amounts of sodium. 

“Processed foods account for most of the salt and sodium we consume,” Hadley said. “Reduce sodium by choosing low or reduced sodium versions of foods when available.” 

Hadley recommends looking at the label and choosing foods that contain less than 140 mg of sodium per serving. Foods that contain 140 mg of sodium or less are considered to be low sodium. 

Download the DASH eating plan ( ), or contact Carla Hadley for a copy by phone at 870-779-3609, or by email at


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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