Dash Diet

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There's a diet that could help you lose weight, keep it off and get this, research shows it lowers your risk of heart attack or stroke. It's called the Dash Diet.

Not only is it ranked the best overall diet by "US News and World Report," the researchers who developed it in Baton Rouge.

Johnny Higdon is no stranger to the Dash Diet. It's what he's been eating since 2004. That's the year he volunteered to be part of a Pennington study looking at dietary approaches to stopping hypertension or dash for short. He was motivated.

"I was getting ready to play golf, got really nauseated and started throwing up and losing my balance," Higdon said. "They thought it was a stroke."

A before picture shows Higdon at 190 pounds. He also had high blood pressure, which is a major cause of stroke. Today Higdon's blood pressure is normal. He's also nearly 30 pounds lighter and has been for eight years.

Catherine Champagne developed the menu people ate on several Dash Diet studies.

"Thing about the Dash Diet is it gives you tons of food because it's a lower fat diet," Champagne explained. "You're never hungry," Higdon added.

That's because Dash is big on fruits, vegetables and whole grains like brown rice. They are things that fill you up. Then, there's low fat dairy, an emphasis on lean meat and a cut in salt intake, which is a major cause of hypertension.

During the study, each ingredient of the Dash Diet was prepared to exacting specifications in Pennington's metabolic kitchen. But, don't be intimidated, the staff said anyone can learn to do it. In addition to new food choices, people who shed the most pounds with Dash cut their daily count of calories.

"Probably 1,600 calories would do it for most people," Champagne said.

For Higdon, it hasn't been so much about how much he eats, but what and how often.

"They teach you to eat five little meals a day and I've been following it since '04. You're never hungry," he said.

People who lost weight and kept it off exercised. Exercise isn't required for Dash, but Higdon has made it part of his routine. When it comes to burning calories, experts say it definitely can't hurt.

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