An old diet really can do new tricks. A study published in this month’s Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine revealed that adolescent girls who closely followed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, widely known as the DASH diet, had a smaller tendency to gain extra weight by early adulthood than girls who followed it less closely.
Last week, the DASH diet was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the best overall diet for weight loss as well as for the prevention and management of diabetes and heart disease. Originally developed to manage high blood pressure, the DASH diet promotes consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. This study indicates the DASH diet may also be a good tool for helping adolescents maintain a healthy weight. Given the increasing rates of childhood and adolescent obesity (and its associated risks), this study sheds light on is the importance of good nutrition as part of the solution.
Guidelines for the DASH diet are as follows:
|Food Groups||Daily Servings*|
|Grains and Grain Products (at least half from whole grains)||7-8|
|Low fat or Non Fat Dairy||2-3|
|Lean Meats and Fish||2-3|
|Nuts, Seeds, Legumes||4-5 per week|
|Fats and Sweets||Limited|
*Based on 2000-calorie diet (Source: dashdiet.org)
Both whole and enriched grains are critical in the DASH diet because of their unique health benefits. Keeping consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the DASH diet calls for half of a day’s grain servings to come from whole grain sources like wheat bread, quinoa and brown rice, and the other half from enriched grains such as white bread, pasta or white rice. By consuming at least three servings of whole grains each day, adolescents will benefit from increased fiber intake which offers both cardiovascular and weight management benefits.
This study is further evidence that a well-balanced diet, with grains as the foundation, is necessary for our nation’s youth to lead happy and healthy lives well past their adolescent years.