DASH actually stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension and Dash diet has been a widely used diet because studies have shown that following a DASH Diet means eating fruits, vegetables and low fat food. Apart from these, DASH diet is a healthy diet because it gives importance in lowering the intake of sodium and saturated fat which helps in lowering the blood pressure amazingly within 14 days. Although some people follow it to lower their blood pressure, it is also used by others to maintain a healthy diet and even for weight loss.
What is the DASH Diet?
DASH is actually a diet that aims at keeping the dieter’s blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg and reducing the amount of sodium intake in daily meals. It is cantered on consumption of foods that are rich in nutrients that will help in lowering high blood pressure and these nutrients are magnesium, potassium and calcium. The DASH Diet focuses on:
- low sodium intake
- limited consumption of fat and total
- consumption of fruits and vegetables
- eating foods that are fat free, low fat milk and dairy products
- diet high in fiber and protein
Goal of Dash Diet
The DASH diet aims for its dieters to take in sodium within the range of 1,500mg daily as sodium is believed to be a precursor of hypertension. With a lowered intake of sodium, not only is blood pressure lowered but a study also showed that people suffering from headache has felt relieved compared to those who are on a high sodium diet. When on a DASH Diet, the dieter will first lower the sodium intake to 2,300 mg or less in a day and gradually lowers it to reach its main goal of 1,500 mg daily.
How does Dash Diet work?
The DASH Diet offers a variety of foods that are based on the USDA food pyramid and with this, the meals offered in the diet are rich in carbs and much emphasis is given to consuming fruits and vegetables. Because it is mainly centered on the purpose of lowering hypertension it was not originally designed for weight loss but due to a recent study called Premier Diet, restricting calories in the DASH diet can gradually lead to weight loss.
The great thing about this diet is that it not helps in lowering hypertension and weight loss but it also gives the essential nutrients that the body needs and can easily fit into anyone’s lifestyle. The DASH Diet is the ideal long-term eating plan for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Essentially it is low in sodium and fat but is rich in fruits and vegetables. On a daily basis, this is what the DASH diet meal plan looks like:
- 6-12 servings of whole grain
- 4-6 servings of fruit, same amount of serving for vegetables
- 2-4 servings of specified fats
- 1-2 servings of protein (lean meat)
- 3-6 servings of nuts and seeds—weekly
The DASH Diet meal plan may also be modified according to the sex and weight of the dieter. A few sweets may also be added if the dieter wishes but it should be approved by the dietitian. As mentioned earlier, the DASH Diet can lower a person’s blood pressure through the 14-day challenge where most dieters notice how their blood pressure has dropped throughout the diet. But if you want to garner the long term effect, you will need to stick to the diet. It is also important to include regular exercise when on the DASH diet.
Advantages of Dash Diet
- Highly recommended by health professionals
- No starving thus hunger is not a problem when on the diet
- No need for close weight monitoring and measuring
- Dieters on the diet are given tips and advice on how to shop for food and given the DASH diet menu plan
- Meal plans may be modified according to the dieters personal preference
- Can help in lowering blood pressure within 14 days and may also be beneficial for diabetics
Disadvantages of Dash Diet
- Can be hard at first for some people to follow the diet
- It is not really designed for weight loss but can people who are overweight has the big possibility that they will lose weight
- Does not offer alternatives for vegetarians
Who can benefit from the DASH Diet?
Since the diet is for lowering hypertension, health experts recommend the DASH diet to people who are hypertensive or diagnosed with pre-hypertension. But anyone who wants to try the DASH diet may very well do so after consulting their physician. The diet is balanced and is filled with the essential nutrients that our body needs.
How many people have used and benefited from Dash Diet?
According to a research study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, women who are on the DASH Diet happen to have a lower rate of heart attack and stroke. It was done over 88,000 women under 25 years of data. Today, millions of people are on the diet, not only hypertensive ones but also those who want to keep away from the disease.
Although the DASH Diet is not really made for weight loss, millions of people are still following it because the meals have low saturated fat content and calories compared to a typical diet. There are still ongoing studies on the long term effects of the DASH Diet just like the Mediterranean Diet because both diets actually bring about similar health benefits such as low heart disease and cancer rates.
The DASH Diet is a simple yet effective way to lower blood pressure and gradually lose weight. The great thing about it is, it is not as expensive as other diets and you don’t have to worry about feeling starved while on the diet or have to buy pre-packaged meal.