Top-ranked eating plans from NIH
NIH-supported and research-based diets get top two ranks by U.S. News & World Report.
Balintfy: In January, many people are starting their New Year's resolution to better manage their weight. And for good reason:
de Jesus: Weight maintenance is very important.
Balintfy: NIH nutritionist Janet de Jesus says weight affects heart disease risk factors, high blood cholesterol and hypertension, or high blood pressure.
de Jesus: It's important for people to lose weight if their overweight or obese, and hopefully sustain that throughout the year.
Balintfy: But the question is often which diet to start? de Jesus points out that U.S. News & World Report recently evaluated 25 of the most popular diets and identified the best.
de Jesus: And they ranked very highly the DASH Eating Plan and the TLC which is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes.
Balintfy: Ranked number one and two respectively, both diets are NIH-supported and research-based. But de Jesus adds that they can be thought of as eating plans, rather than diets.
de Jesus: I like “eating plan” better than “diet” because really this is a change for life. It's how you eat. “Diets” is that cliché that comes up. It's usually taken negatively. So we want to say positively, healthy eating is good for you and not just the negative diet that comes around in January or when someone gets bad news from their doctor.
Balintfy: Bad news from a doctor can be a diagnosis of hypertension. de Jesus says that the top-ranked DASH eating plan focuses on that.
de Jesus: DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. And this eating plan was created as a result of two major clinical trials. So the eating plan mirrors very closely — what was fed to the participants, so it was a feeding trial. And what they found is that even independent of sodium reduction or weight loss that the DASH eating plan was able to lower blood pressure in participants compared to a controlled diet.
Balintfy: de Jesus adds that hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Another heart disease risk factor is high blood cholesterol, which is the target of the number 2-ranked TLC.
de Jesus: TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes and that comes out of the National Cholesterol Program and the aim is to lower your high blood cholesterol. So this diet, the main emphasis is on lowering saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
Balintfy: US News says to be top rated in their ranking, a diet has to be nutritious, safe and effective. de Jesus adds that for any diet, try to make it meaningful and realistic.
de Jesus: I would just say you want to start with small steps. You don't want to change everything at once. You know pick something that you want to work on. So for example, if you want to lower your saturated fat intake, look at the foods that you're eating and see what's high in saturated fat. So for example, high fat dairy products, fatty cuts of meat, skin on poultry. If you are eating those, look to replace those with something healthier. Don't do everything at once. Once you've mastered that then you could probably switch to another nutrient.
Balintfy: She also recommends getting family and friends involved because support is important. Also working with a physician and a registered dietician to start or change an eating plan can be very helpful.
de Jesus: Changing the way you eat and also increasing your physical activity is really worth it for your health. It's better for you. It's good for your family as well, so give it a try and keep it up and don't get too frustrated. We all stumble but just keep it up throughout the year.
Balintfy: For more information on both the DASH and TLC eating plans, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov. For NIH Radio, this is Joe Balintfy— NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Joe Balintfy
Sound Bite: Janet de Jesus
Topic: diet, eat, eating, eating plan, diets, weight, overweight, obese, weight maintenance, hypertension, high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart, heart disease, stroke