NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A diet with roots in Louisiana was ranked the top best overall diet for the year. The U.S News and World Report magazine released what it calls the best diets for 2014 with input from a panel of health experts.
They looked at 32 popular diets known for safety and effectiveness. The DASH diet - an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension - was ranked the best overall diet.
The DASH diet has a strong Louisiana connection. Scientists in Baton Rouge at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center helped create it in 1996 to reduce high blood pressure that can trigger heart diseases or heart failure. Dr Stefany Primeaux, a specialist in metabolism with the LSU Health Sciences Center, says federal studies show that in two weeks, the DASH diet reduces blood pressure and helps with weight loss.
"I was so happy because it's Louisiana, and it has been No. 1 for a time now," Primeaux said.
This DASH diet calls for a drastic reduction of sweets and fried fatty foods. It's a low-salt diet that emphasizes whole grain foods, fruits, veggies and more chicken, fish and turkey than red meat.
"So a typical dinner would be a piece of broiled fish with brown rice and plenty of veggies, just not a lot of olive oil and sauces." said Primeaux. She says the diet provides a chart to show you how to reduce calories, allowing you to lose close to one pound a week if you include exercise.
As for the best overall easiest-to-follow diet, Weight Watchers was ranked the best. It was praised for its effectiveness and its system of points that helps you determine what you can eat daily.
The Caveman Diet ranked dead last on the list of 32 popular diets. It technically called the "Paleo Diet," and it requires you to eat like a caveman. You're allowed to eat only what a caveman would find when he went hunting or fishing or gathering food in the wild. The Paleo Diet consists lots of meat, but only from free-range animals, and lots of seafood, veggies, fruit and berries. However it's a very restrictive diet. You can't eat grains, so that means no bread. It also bans dairy, which means no milk, cheese or ice-cream. Also no salty snacks, sweets or juices. Some locals who tried the diet say they lost weight, but it took a lot of planning to stick to it.
"You cant be out and about and starving and have to grab a bite all of a sudden. You have to plan a lot, so I cooked a lot. I had a lot of stuff on hand, so I didn't have to make a bad decision," said resident Sarah Tucker.
Primeaux says there is little research on the Paleo Diet, but one small study group lost close to two pounds a week. However, given the strict guidelines for the diet, Primeaux said she's not surprised that it's not highly recommended.
"When diets are highly restrictive, they are hard for people to follow long term," she said.
She says that should be the key when switching up your eating habits. It should be a diet that you can stick to. So whether it's the DASH Diet or another one that interests you, health experts say make sure you choose an eating plan that's a realistic, healthy life-style change you can live with.
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