Dash Diet Improved: Now It’s Omni Heart. Part I

May 20, 2007

Dash Diet Improved: Now It’s Omni Heart.  Part I 

 Competency:   # 2, DASH DIET, Now DASH/OMNI Heart Diet               ReferenceClin Trials. 2005;2(6):529-37 

 The best single measure of how long you live when you are in your 30s-60s is your blood pressure.  The DASH diet is named for the Dietary Alternatives to Suppress Hypertension.  The research study was a stunning success.  Its intent was to pull together all the known pieces of “evidence” of what an integrated diet that people could follow should look like.  And its results were very reassuring.  Everyone lowered their blood pressure.  No matter how low or high, everyone got results, and in just a few days!  LDLs went down too.  That’s just about as important as blood pressure for predicting future heart disease.  

The one-two punch of lower BP and lower LDLs made the DASH diet THE darling of the new FDA food guidelines.   The next question was whether really low sodium would make a difference.   A project called DASH-sodium showed that it did.  Blood pressure dropped some more.  Again, remember, the lower your pressure, the longer you live. Some questions remained.  Lots of studies have been pouring in about the Mediterranean diet.  Olive oil:  30-35% of calories from olive oil.  The results are just as good.  But that wasn’t the DASH formula.  

Then there is this awkward Adkins Diet with more protein in it that also seemed to work.  The Adkins diet has so many caveats in it about saturated fat that its beneficial effect is still open to question.  But good research asks questions intelligently. You should know the DASH Diet:  It’s the basis and foundation for the next evolutionary offspring: the Omni Heart diet.  

Here is the DASH Diet.  One, start with 8-10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables.  A serving is a half a cup so a banana is two servings.  A big apple is two servings.  Two, add 2-3 servings of low-fat calcium product.  Three, have 1-2 servings of WHITE meat a day for a total of 5-6 ounces.  (A big chicken breast can be 10 ounces). Four, add a teaspoon here and there of fat (olive oil?).  Five, have a couple of servings of beans and nuts a week.  We should all be considering the DASH diet our basic diet.  

In fact, reading between the lines, it’s the fundamental basis for the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, and much of what works in many diets.  At least, that's what we've been led to believe by the evidence.  Now, the evidence has advanced. So, explain the Omni Heart Diet.  It’s variety!  And it’s good research, much too important to squeeze in this week.  Tune in next week.  We’ll talk about how DASH became Omni and how you can live a much healthier lifestyle with some variety in it. 

 WWW.  What Will Work for Me?  Counting Fruits and Vegetables.  Counting calcium servings.  Counting protein servings.  I’m finally good at that.  Every day, get to 9 F&Vs.  Counting motivates me to get all the way up to 9.  Ben Franklin attributed his success in life to each week taking an individual virtue and concentrating on it for a week.  Just like us, learning one tiny little change each week, I can eat better, live healthier.  So, at dinner each night, go back over your day and count.  Pick up a kiwi, a mango, an apple. Skip the ice cream.  It counts.

This column is written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield WI. (262-784-5300)