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DASH diet explained: But don’t try it because Dr. Oz says so

Lia Grainger
Shine On
February 19, 2013

The so-called "DASH diet" appeared on the Dr. Oz Show Tuesday afternoon, and as such, will likely become the next big trend in dieting and healthy eating.

Yet despite the often questionable logic of the great and powerful Dr. Oz, it seems that, much like the Oprah Effect, whatever appears on his program is pretty much guaranteed to become popular.

What many people don’t know about the DASH diet — short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — is that it’s been around since 2006 and has already been endorsed by a shopping list of extremely reputable medical clinics and organizations, including the Mayo Clinic, the American Heart Association, and the American National Institutes of Health. The diet was designed based on more than a decade of research by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute with the goal of creating a relatively easy-to-adopt diet that would lower high blood pressure.

Also see: Vitamin C doesn’t reduce your risk of a cold: study

The DASH diet, when followed properly, can lower blood pressure in just 14 days. Though the initial purpose of the diet was not weight loss, shedding unwanted pounds proved to a happy side effect of the fruit, vegetable and whole grain-rich diet, and it’s likely one of the big reasons it’s made it onto Dr. Oz.

The diet is also beneficial for people with diabetes, excess abdominal fat, and women with postmenopausal weight gain.

The DASH diet is, at its core, a breakdown of the specific number of servings of each food group that should be consumed each day.

For an individual on a 2000 calorie a day diet, it is as follows:

Grains and grain products: 7-8 servings

Fruits: 4-5 servings

Vegetables: 4-5 servings

Low or non-fat dairy foods: 2-3 servings

Lean meat, fish, poultry: 2 or less servings

Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 4-5 per week

Fats and sweets: limited

Also see: Health benefits of omega-6 oils questioned in new research

A new book titled The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution was recently released and was a topic of conversation on Dr. Oz, but the diet’s appearance on the popular show is not the reason you should try it.

Why? Numerous investigative news stories have examined Dr. Oz's medical claims and found that much of what Dr. Oz says lacks solid scientific evidence.

For example, his claim that mangosteen fruit extract Garcinia cambogia is a weightloss “breakthrough” deemed “revolutionary” was discredited in numerous studies detailed in in Salon last December.

The story also discusses Dr. Oz’s endorsement of green coffee bean supplements that he describeds as a “miracle pill” for weight loss. The claim was based on a study of only 16 people and the research had “overwhelming methodological limitations.”

Also see: Wait, so skipping breakfast isn't so bad after all?

He also recommends specific foods for losing abdominal fat -- what he refers to as a “muffin top” -- when there is no evidence that specific foods will target weight loss in particular areas of the body.

In a special report on Dr. Oz’s dubious claims, Canadian journalists Julia Belluz and Steve Hoffman take Dr. Oz to task for what they refer to as pseudoscience. They point out that he gives air time to people that others would label as “quacks” and frequently makes health promises that are simply too good to be true.

“Successful TV doctors perform theatre; they invite us in, speak sensationally and have a commanding presence,” write Belluz and Hoffman. “They use phrases such as ‘miraculous cure,’ ‘unbelievable finding’ and ‘magical treatment.’ Everything works for everyone, and in the world they create for us, no problem is without a solution.”

Dr. Oz is the ultimate TV doctor. His influence is vast, and his promotion of the DASH diet will likely mean its imminent skyrocketing popularity. Let's all just be grateful that this time, he got it right.

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