DASH Diet – In addition to its capacity to prevent or control diabetes and its role in promoting heart health, DASH was recognized for its ability to fight excessive blood pressure.
What is the DASH Diet?
The DASH diet, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, is advocated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to do just that: stop (or prevent) hypertension, often known as high blood pressure. A significant drop in systolic blood pressure of 5.5 mmHg and a decrease in diastolic blood pressure of 3.0 mmHg occurred in the first multicenter study, which was conducted on 459 adults with baseline blood pressure readings of 80 to 95 mmHg and systolic blood pressure greater than 160 mmHg.
The diet emphasizes foods that are high in nutrients that lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.
The DASH diet is a balanced one that may be sustained over time. Additionally, DASH advises against consuming foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, tropical oils, and beverages with added sugar. Following DASH also entails limiting sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day, which adherents frequently reduce to 1,500 mg.
- Friendly to families. Family members can easily share the meals with little to no change. There are also wholesome and balanced food options for people of all ages.
- Budget-friendly. The foods for this diet are easy to find at a regular grocery shop and don’t require expensive or specialty ingredients.
- Planet-friendly. The diet takes the effects of food choices on the environment into account. The majority of the food is responsibly produced, made from plants, or grown or manufactured.
- Vegan or vegetarian-friendly. Recipes are simple to adapt for a vegan or vegetarian diet.
- Gluten-free friendly. Recipes can easily be changed to follow a gluten-free diet.
- Halal friendly. Simply changing recipes will allow you to continue on the diet.
- Kosher friendly. Recipes can be easily altered while still adhering to the regimen.
- Low fat. The diet discourages the use of bad fats like saturated fats and promotes a moderate intake of beneficial fats like olive oil, with less than 30% of total calories coming from fat.
How does the DASH Diet work?
While the DASH diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, it provides more detailed recommendations and advice on actual portion sizes and approved food groups. According to Lindsey Pine, a culinary dietitian in Los Angeles and author of the books “Mediterranean Diet Meal Prep Cookbook” and “Quick & Easy Mediterranean Diet for Beginners,” this way of eating “provides recommendations for how many portions you should ideally consume each week rather than asking you to cut out entire food groups.”
She continues, it has “so many more whole-body health benefits, similar to the Mediterranean diet, and is more than just an eating pattern to reduce blood pressure.”
- Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will help you feel satisfied.
- There are moderate serving sizes of fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, and dairy items that are fat-free or low in fat.
- Saturated-fat-rich foods, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy goods, should be tightly controlled or avoided.
No counting carbs, points, or calories.
Filling – it’s rich in high-fiber foods.
A clearly defined plan with recipes.
Has proven health benefits.
Diverse foods and flavors.
Tedious portioning, meal planning, or prep.
Can I Lose Weight on the DASH Diet?
DASH can result in long-term, secure weight loss. The idea is to keep an eye on your serving sizes and consider the calorie content of the meals you choose.
As an illustration, an ounce of strawberries contains nine calories, whereas an ounce of avocado contains 45. Although avocado is a great source of healthful fat, eating too much of it will thwart your weight-loss efforts.
To find out which strategy works best for you, you might need to try both. Some people find that eating little, regular meals throughout the day makes losing weight easier while others do better with a few larger meals.
If losing weight is your objective, combine a healthy eating plan with at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Short-Term Weight Loss
You’ll probably lose weight if you eliminate processed, sugary, salty, and high-fat meals from your diet. On the DASH diet, men typically get 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day while women typically get 1,200 to 1,600. This ought to result in a weekly weight loss of one to two pounds.
Long-Term Weight Loss
DASH dieters in one study lost an extra 3.1 pounds over 8 to 24 weeks compared to those on other diets, according to research published in Obesity Reviews in 2016, 0.4 units of body mass index during 8 to 52 weeks on the diet and 0.4 inches of waist circumference over 24 weeks.
Weight Maintenance and Management
On the DASH diet, you should be able to keep the weight off once you’ve achieved your target. While the calorie content is sufficient to fuel your physical activity and sustain your new shape, the fiber and protein will keep you full.
Health Benefits of the DASH Diet
According to research, the DASH diet significantly lowers blood pressure, encourages weight reduction, prevents cancer, improves renal health, and supports better blood glucose control. The DASH diet is recommended for all people, regardless of health status, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The DASH diet is linked to lowering: According to a review of studies published in 2021 in StatPearls, which bills itself as the largest repository of medical education in the world:
- Blood pressure.
- The risk of adverse cardiac events.
- Type 2 diabetes.
According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the DASH diet dramatically decreased the average level of c-reactive protein, an important blood marker of heightened inflammatory activity in the body, by 13%.
Inflammation is bad for the heart because it irritates the blood vessels and encourages the development of dangerous plaques in the artery walls. The body releases chemicals and white blood cells to produce a blood clot to seal the wound when those plaques break. This blood clot may cause a heart attack or stroke.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans list the DASH diet as a healthy eating plan because it has repeatedly been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. This decrease in the risk of heart disease is associated with the DASH diet, which consists of the following components:
- Low in sodium.
- High in fiber.
- High in potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
- abounding in nitrate- and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Focused on unsaturated fats.
Together, these dietary elements improve blood vessel health, salt excretion through urine, liver function, blood coagulation, inflammatory levels, and heart function.
- According to a 2019 study published in Scientific Reports that involved 3,218 higher-weight persons or obese Iranians, following the DASH diet is linked to “improved metabolic profiles.” Researchers found that greater adherence to the DASH diet was associated with 21% lower odds of metabolic unhealthy obesity, regardless of age, sex, caloric intake, physical activity, body mass index, smoking, or education” more adherence to the DASH diet was related with 21% lower odds of metabolic unhealthy obesity.” The condition of having a big waist circumference, high fasting glucose, raised triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, or elevated blood pressure is known as metabolic syndrome, sometimes known as metabolic unhealthy obesity. This confluence of risk factors increases the likelihood of numerous undesirable medical diseases, such as diabetes, dementia, and heart disease.
- In a study that was published in the June 2019 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers gathered 4,478 participants from six U.S. communities (people of all genders of various ages and ethnicities, free of cardiovascular disease at baseline). The relationship between diet and the development of heart failure was examined using food frequency questionnaires during the 13 years that researchers observed these people. A total of 179 of the 4,478 participants experienced heart failure over the 13-year follow-up period. The incidence of incident heart failure was lowest among people whose diets most closely resembled the DASH diet pattern.
- A low-salt DASH diet significantly lowered systolic blood pressure in research supported by the NHLBI that included 412 adults with moderate hypertension, often known as stage 1 high blood pressure or prehypertension, and an average baseline blood pressure of 135/86 mmHg. Those with the highest baseline blood pressure experienced the most significant improvements in blood pressure. A DASH diet containing 1,150 mg of salt per day decreased blood pressure by 20.8 points, 9.7 points with a 2,300 mg sodium plan, and 7.5 points with a 3,450 mg plan.
The DASH diet should be taken into consideration by anyone with diabetes or at risk of developing it. This whole-food diet has been demonstrated to improve blood lipids, support weight loss, reduce insulin resistance, and support blood pressure control.
- The DASH diet and the Mediterranean eating style, according to a meta-analysis published in Endocrine in 2014, may both reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes by 20%.
- A 2022 study (Frontiers in Nutrition) found that among 28,905 people with diabetes, both the DASH and Mediterranean diets were linked to a decreased death risk.
- In a relatively small study involving 31 participants with Type 2 diabetes, the DASH diet improved blood lipids and blood pressure as expected but also decreased A1c by 1.7% and fasting blood glucose levels by nearly a third.
It is specifically intended to lower the risk of dementia caused by aging and combines the DASH and Mediterranean diets.
Berry, olive oil, leafy green vegetables, almonds, and other antioxidant- and vitamin E-rich foods help prevent harmful oxidative stress. At the same time, detrimental inflammation in the brain is reduced by omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.
Bone and Joint Health
Limiting refined carbs while getting enough protein from sources like fish, lean meat, chicken, beans, and dairy will help you maintain good bone health. The recommended two to three servings of low-fat dairy products, together with fruits and vegetables high in potassium, magnesium, and vitamin K, all aid in the growth of strong bones and joints. Reducing your consumption of alcohol and caffeine will help you achieve even more.
DASH diet-based healthy eating lowers blood pressure
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. A balanced eating regimen meant to help treat or prevent high blood pressure is called the DASH diet (hypertension).
The DASH diet includes foods that are high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients aid in blood pressure regulation. Foods heavy in salt, saturated fat, and added sugars are restricted in diets.
In just two weeks, the DASH diet can decrease blood pressure (according to studies). Dietary changes can also lower blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol. Two key risk factors for heart disease and stroke are high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol levels.
DASH diet and sodium
Compared to the typical American diet, which can include up to 3,400 mg of sodium per day, the DASH diet has less salt.
The DASH diet permits 2,300 mg of salt daily. It adheres to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendation to keep salt intake per day to under 2,300 mg. That is roughly the amount of sodium in 1 teaspoon of table salt.
The daily sodium requirement for DASH with reduced sodium is 1,500 mg. You can choose the diet that best satisfies your needs in terms of health. If you’re unsure of how much salt is best for you to consume, go to your doctor.
Take aim at sodium
The core foods of the DASH diet are naturally low in salt. Thus, simply following the DASH diet will probably result in you consuming less salt.
You can further reduce sodium by:
- replacing salt with sodium-free spices or flavorings
- when cooking hot cereal, pasta, or rice, leaving out the salt
- Choosing plain fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables
- Choosing skinless fish, poultry, and lean meat pieces that are fresh or frozen
- reading food labels, choosing salt-free or low-sodium options
If you consume fewer processed, high-sodium items, you might notice a difference in the flavor of the dish. It could take a while for your palette to adjust. However, once it does, you could find that you prefer eating DASH more.
Health Risks of the DASH Diet
The DASH diet poses no possible health hazards to the majority of people.
Key Nutrients to Consider
The nutrients that are most frequently insufficiently consumed in the average American diet are abundantly provided by the DASH diet.
|Calcium||The DASH diet delivers 1,250 mg of calcium per day when properly followed; the average adult requires 1,000 mg per day.|
|Potassium||The DASH diet delivers 4,700 mg of potassium per day when followed as intended; this is the amount advised by health professionals.|
|Fiber||If followed as intended, the DASH diet should offer at least 30 grams of fiber per day; the USDA suggests 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.|
|Vitamin D||The DASH diet offers the 600 mg of vitamin D that is needed to keep bones healthy.|
Food Components are Often Over-Consumed
The DASH diet consumes relatively little additional sugar.
The saturated fat content of the DASH diet is around 6% of calories from fat, far below the 10% limit set by the government.
The DASH diet was developed to be low in salt, with only 2,300 mg of sodium at the more lenient level and 1,500 mg at the harsher level.
Who Should Not Try the DASH Diet?
Anyone on a limited diet because of a medical condition, such as kidney disease, should speak with their doctor before starting the DASH diet.
What Does the DASH Diet Cost?
Adopting the DASH lifestyle just involves one cost: food.
AA study that was published in JAMA internal medicine in November 2013 found that the diets of underprivileged population groups deviate the most from the suggested DASH pattern. According to this study, a diet was more expensive the closer it adhered to the DASH pattern. Interestingly, however, the DASH diet was not related to considerably increased food expenses among Mexican-American-Hispanic people. This is probably because their typical diet contains items that are both nutrient-dense and reasonably priced.
What Costs are Related to the DASH Diet?
Given that nutritious whole foods don’t have to be unique or expensive, the expenditures associated with following the DASH diet should be comparable to a typical grocery budget.
Doing DASH Diet on a Budget
- Whenever you can prepare your meals and snacks in advance.
- Buy seasonal produce such as fruits and vegetables.
- rely on frozen or canned veggies, canned fruit, and canned legumes. Select low-sodium options, or rinse thoroughly before eating.
- Purchase non-perishables like whole grains and rice in large quantities.
- If you know you won’t use any meat, fish, or poultry within a few days, freeze it.
- To prevent food waste, make a plan for leftovers, including veggies and herbs.
- Join a CSA organization to receive discounted shipments of fresh, regional produce.
Is DASH Diet Easy to Follow?
The DASH diet is listed as the sixth easiest diet to adhere to.
Although it could be challenging to give up your favorite salty, sweet, and fatty foods, DASH doesn’t outright forbid any certain food categories, which increases your likelihood of sticking with them in the long run.
Following DASH is pretty convenient. There are many recipe alternatives, and the NHLBI offers a lot of guidance on subjects like reducing sodium intake when dining out or preparing meals at home. Furthermore, according to research, those who want a little more flexibility can replace 10% of their daily carbs with 10% of protein or unsaturated fat and still benefit from DASH’s heart-healthy effects.
Rust adds “DASH is adaptable to just about every culture’s food even if dairy is not part of your eating plan.”
In clinical trials, the non-dairy DASH diet nonetheless reduced blood pressure, she says, while the plan that contained dairy did so significantly more.
It’s easy to find DASH diet recipes. In its online database, the NHLBI provides more than 180 heart-healthy recipes. Otherwise, a lot of renowned institutions, such as the Mayo Clinic, offer extensive lists of DASH-acceptable meals.
On DASH, you don’t have to stress too much about going hungry. Nutritionists emphasize the significance of satiety or the sense of fullness. There are many recipe alternatives, and the NHLBI offers a lot of guidance on subjects like reducing sodium intake when dining out or preparing meals at home.
You may initially find it difficult to appreciate DASH if you enjoy salt. However, the low-salt diet should eventually cause your taste buds to adjust. By becoming friends with herbs and spices, you can avoid bland meals.
Ideas for Recipes and Meals for the DASH Diet
You will get your fair share of lean meat, poultry, and fish as well as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds, as well as a little fat and a few treats. No food category is off-limits. Foods high in saturated fats and salt, which are known to elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease, are all but eliminated from modern diets.
There is a ton of room for customization in your plan. You can eat whenever you want and adapt any cuisine’s dishes to your preferences.
Sample Day Menu for the DASH Diet
On the DASH diet, dining out is possible, but proceed with care. Considering that restaurant meals are typically fatty, salty, and enormous, you should use caution when eating there. By avoiding pickled, cured, or smoked foods, limiting condiments, opting for fruits or vegetables instead of soup, and asking for your meal to be prepared without added fat or salt, NHLBI advises avoiding salt. On the DASH diet, you can occasionally consume alcohol as well.
The MAYO Clinic offers specific tips for following the DASH diet when eating out. Some of these include:
- Request that no extra salt, MSG, or salt-containing compounds be used in the preparation of your dish.
- Choose fruits and vegetables instead of salty appetizers. For example, order a salad with the dressing on the side or with just olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Remove skin from poultry and trim away any visible fat from the flesh. Just a part the size of a deck of cards should be consumed.
- Choose foods cooked using healthier methods including steaming, grilling, broiling, baking, or poaching.
- Order fruit and steamed vegetables without butter or sauce.