Dr. Dhara Patel, Family Healthcare of RockwallDays before American Heart Month begins Feb. 1, one heart-healthy diet plan has again drawn praise from medical experts for its ability to help prevent diseases such as diabetes and heart disease — the leading cause of death for both men and women, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) finished atop the “Best Overall Diet” rankings released earlier this month by U.S. News & World Report. This is the fourth year its panel of nutrition and health experts has released its annual diet analyses.

DASH diet guidelines include:

  • Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy;
  • Avoiding red meat, high-fat sweets and snacks;
  • Limiting salt and sodium intake.

“The DASH diet works by cutting down the sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars and cholesterol,” said family physician Dhara Patel, D.O., of Family Healthcare of Rockwall, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “It still allows for a well-balanced diet and includes all major food groups. By cutting down on these items, it decreases a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.” 

Patel said that by following the recommended caloric intake, a person can increase the chances of maintaining or losing weight because the diet is broken down by a person’s activity level.

“It’s heart healthy because it decreases the sodium and cholesterol intake,” she said. “But for optimum cardiovascular benefits, include 30 minutes of exercise. While the diet itself may not prevent type 2 diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight can certainly help prevent and control diabetes.” 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Dhara Patel, call 469-402-2588 or visit Family Healthcare of Rockwall is located at 2265 N. Lakeshore Drive, Suite 101.