Tuesday, January 31, 2006

New? DASH Diet??

Talk about misbranding! In 1997, the federal National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-sponsored Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study found that -- holding salt intake at a constant level -- blood pressure could be improved significantly by adding fruit, vegetables and dairy products to the American diet. Hypertensives subjects dropped their systolic BP by 11.4 mmHg -- impressive. Those interested in improving dietary quality and lowering cardiovascular risk -- including the Salt Institute -- rejoiced and called for the DASH Diet to be the guiding principle for the new year 2000 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It took a bit longer, but the 2005 edition of the Guidelines, in fact, explicitly endorsed the "DASH Diet." So far, so good. But in the last nine years, those with their own nutrition agendas have tried to hijack the "DASH Diet" by asserting that the DASH Diet is now fruits, vegetables and dairy products AND salt-restricted or, in current headlines, fruits, vegetables and dairy products AND carbohydrate-restricted and protein-enhanced. Well, folks, there is no such thing as a South Beach DASH Diet. The DASH Diet offers an exciting possibility that correcting nutritional (mineral) deficiencies in the American diet can confer health benefits, but it has nothing to do with dietary salt, dietary carbs or dietary protein. Unfortunately, NHLBI, rather than defend its original findings, has been playing along with the misbranding of these later studies. FDA should call "halt" on its sister agency; this misbranding is akin to "bait-and-switch." For more on how this plays out for dietary salt, see the Salt and Health or Salt for Human Nutrition pages on the Salt Institute website.

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