The DASH diet isn't only about a reduction in salt intake, but also a therapeutic eating approach in the management of blood cholesterol, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and weight. Learn More
DASH Eating Planbased on a 2,000 calorie diet
|Food Group||Daily Servings|
|Low-fat or fat-free dairy products||2-3|
|Meats, poultry, fish||6 or less|
|Nuts, seeds, dry beans and peas||4-5/week|
|Fats and oils||2-3|
|Sweets||5 or less/week|
What is the DASH Diet Eating Plan
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension which is a diet based on clinical studies. The research and science-backed plan is less likely about eating in small portions but more of a balanced eating plan for a healthy lifestyle. The diet was developed with the purpose of establishing a food-based strategy to lower blood pressure that would eventually allow reduction on full reliance of chemical substances. It has since helped many people not only be able to control blood pressure, but reduce their risks of other related illnesses.
Instead of using special diet foods, DASH sets forth daily nutritional goals targeting a specific amount of calories a day. It promotes the inclusion of the right amount of nutrients in food that can lower blood pressure. The DASH diet has been evolving over the years as new nutrition research emerges and expected to only keep improving with new information.
The DASH meal plan recommends the following:
- Intake of nuts, beans, fish, poultry, vegetable oils, fish, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Intake of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables.
- Limited intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
- Limited sodium consumption.
Who Should Follow The DASH Diet?
It comes as no surprise that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the DASH diet eating plan to everyone, — from children to senior adults. It's never too late to get started with the DASH diet.
It has been proven to be helpful to people who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high insulin sensitivity. New research has shown that it can even help keep children grow within the bounds of normal blood pressure levels. Further, it can be ideal for people who want to lose weight without the typically-excessive and under-pressure dieting. While it was not originally developed for weight loss, the DASH diet is also very effective as a healthy weight-loss plan. Also, since it does not require purchasing any sort of branded supplements (which can be expensive), it is perfect for people on a budget.
Daily Calorie Needs for Women:
|Age (years)||Sedentary Lifestyle||Moderately Active||Active Lifestyle|
Daily Calorie Needs for Men:
|Age (years)||Sedentary Lifestyle||Moderately Active||Active Lifestyle|
It is clear that the DASH diet's primary goal is to improve overall nutrition quality. Nevertheless, since the DASH diet eating plan was originally created to help individuals with high blood pressure, it is reasonable to say that the main objective is to help people prevent and control high blood pressure.
Due to the fact that it follows specific standards and new information, it aims to provide a balanced diet following measurable portion sizes that adhere to reputable health organizations and studies. The diet's exact objective/s for the individual may change for every person, depending on their health needs. Nonetheless, helping people improve their health remains to be the main goal.
How Should The DASH Diet Plan Work?
The DASH diet works based on servings from different food groups. It calls for a specific amount of calorie intake, and the amount depends on the person's age and the number of calories that they burn a day. The diet provides a graph with different food group serving numbers, and a person should consume the number of servings indicated under their calorie segment. In addition to following the DASH diet's proportioned meals, people are also encouraged to be physically active, avoid alcohol and get plenty of sleep.
DASH Diet Nutrition
Due to the fact that the DASH diet is cemented around the idea of lowering blood pressure, it focuses on nutrients that help do so, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients can be found in every-day foods such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and other food groups. Based on the DASH diet, people should consume the highest number of servings from the grains food group and very little fat. Overall, the DASH diet eating plan is well-rounded in its nutrition guidelines and an excellent diet program for everyone.
DASH Eating Plan for being the Best Diet for High Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common diseases. It affects 1 in 3 Americans over the age of 18 years old. Hypertension, especially when ignored, can lead to more severe disorders such as cerebrovascular diseases, cardiac problems, and kidney failure. The treatment of hypertension and maintenance of optimal blood pressure level is of great importance.
Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood in the circulatory system, which is often taken for medical diagnosis and monitoring. The reading consists of two levels or numbers, namely the systolic blood pressure (upper or first number) and diastolic blood pressure (lower or second number).
Systolic pressure: indicates the pressure of blood against artery walls when your heart beats and pushes the blood round the body.
Diastolic pressure: indicates the pressure of blood against artery walls between heartbeats, when your heart is at rest and refilling with blood.
Normal blood pressure is 90 to 120 mmHg for systolic and 60 to 80 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. The criteria for diagnosing hypertension is a blood pressure over or equal to 130 mmHg/80 mmHg. Hypertension is further divided into two stages:
stage 1, where systolic blood pressure ranges from 130 to 139 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure ranges from 80 to 89 mmHg; and
stage 2, where systolic blood pressure is over or equal to 140 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure is over or equal to 90 mmHg.
People who have systolic blood pressure between 120 and 129 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure between 60 and 80 mmHg have high normal values of blood pressure, and this range is defined as a stage of prehypertension. Your blood pressure can be unhealthy even if it stays only slightly above 120/80 mmHg. The higher the level, the greater the health risk.
|STAGES||SYSTOLIC mm Hg|
|DIASTOLIC mm Hg|
|NORMAL||90 – 120||and||60 – 80|
|PREHYPERTENSION||120 – 129||and||60 – 80|
|HYPERTENSION (STAGE 1)||130 – 139||or||80 – 89|
|HYPERTENSION (STAGE 2)||140 OR HIGHER||or||90 OR HIGHER|
In around 5% of patients suffering from hypertension, it is due to an underlying medical disorder. For example, kidney disease, primary aldosteronism and pheochromocytoma. This kind of hypertension is called secondary, and treating the underlying condition will very likely result to a reduction in blood pressure levels or return to normal values. However, in most patients the cause of hypertension is unknown. This is called primary or essential hypertension, and it commonly requires a life-long treatment.
A high blood pressure makes it hard for the heart to pump enough supply of blood that contains the nutrients and oxygen needed by the different parts of the body. This can result to less elastic and scarred arteries. When stiffening of the arteries develop, it causes thickening of the cardiac muscle making it work even harder and weak. Damaged arteries affect the amount of blood supply that reaches body organs for proper functioning and a reduction in blood supply will harm any affected organs. This is why kidney failure is a very possible complication of high blood pressure.
Hypertension treatment is complex, and it includes lifestyle changes and medical treatment. However, medical treatment may not always be needed. You can ask your doctor for advise. It is important to keep in mind that medical consultation remains a priority.
The need for medical intervention can be determined by a doctor, where the combination and doses of antihypertensives are individual to each patient, as they depend on patient's blood pressure levels, age, other diseases that the patient may be suffering from and patient's general state.
On another note, every patient with hypertension is advised to make changes to their lifestyle. These include weight reduction, smoking cessation, engagement in aerobical physical activities, moderation of alcohol consumption and changes in diet.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and The American Heart Association promote the DASH diet for the control and prevention of hypertension. The DASH diet was first developed in the 1990s, based on multiple research, in order to produce a food-based strategy to lower blood pressure.
The DASH diet has been found to lower the blood pressure levels of individuals whether they be hypertensive or healthy people. Interestingly, this can also be achieved even without changes in salt intake or weight. However, it has shown not to lower the blood pressure level of healthy individuals to an extent that it goes below normal levels.
The efficacy of the diet was proven in many studies: in average, it can help reduce blood pressure levels by 11/8 mmHg in hypertensive patients, and by 8/4 mmHg in non-hypertensive and prehypertensive persons.
The DASH diet is a meal plan containing high amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fat-free or low-fat diary products, fish, beans and nuts should also be included. Foods rich in nutrients such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, along with antioxidants, contributes greatly to the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system.
The DASH plan recommends limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, and reducing sweets and/or beverages of sugar content. Although the diet itself is proven to help reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, it is recommended that sodium intake is also lowered and limited to only 1500-3000 mg/day, as it further improves the result. The inclusion of restrictions in sodium intake to the diet has shown the greatest reductions in blood pressure levels among the studies. Hypertensive individuals with the lowest intakes of salt appeared to display the most impressive results. Eg., A daily intake of 1,500 milligrams (mg) sodium lowers blood pressure further than a daily intake of 2,300 mg sodium.
The DASH diet was not designed as a weight loss plan, but following the diet does not lead to unhealthy weight gain. However, since reduction of weight is also needed in some patients with hypertension, weight loss can be easily achieved by following the meal plan where you can reduce daily intake into 2000 calories; while increasing physical activity.
Following the diet, together with other healthy lifestyle changes adds up to the effects of antihypertensives. It may also allow the possibility to have lower doses of these drugs needed in controlling blood pressure in patients with hypertension. It is even more important in patients with prehypertension, for with these patients, lifestyle changes can prevent or slow down the actual development of hypertension. It can help prolong the time where you have no need for intake of medical substances or need for undergoing regular therapy.
The DASH dietary pattern may be effective at lowering blood pressure but is not only recommended for people suffering from hypertension; it is recommended for everyone, as it is a model of modern healthy diet, that is balanced, flexible, easy to follow as you go on and requires no special foods.
DASH Diet for Weight Loss
The DASH diet was developed in an effort to help reduce blood pressure in place of drugs and other medication. However, it does not actually encourage replacing the need for drug intake considering that the situation of each individual can be different. Despite the DASH diet having been proven to be very effective, you need to have a consultation with your doctor before making changes with your medicinal regimen.
The meal plan advocates foods that are low to moderate in fat and high in fiber which are key drivers in managing high blood pressure. Having a healthy blood pressure is important to maintaining the overall health, not only of your heart, but of your body. A common result following a healthy and balanced diet is puting the “bad” lipoproteins in your body at reduced levels while lowering your risk of several inflammatory diseases. You may have already known that high blood pressure increases the chances of stroke or heart attack, do you?
Whilst it is a good idea to always include a daily bout of exercise (simple brisk walking will do), the DASH diet is simply about making manageable dietary changes that are flexible and built on proven nutritional advice. In fact, the eating plan is popular among dietitians, doctors, and other health professionals in the United States.
It is also increasingly becoming very common to weight loss enthusiasts due to its long-term effects and considering the way it emphasizes a diet high in vegetables, whole grains, fruits and low fat dairy products. Given that the DASH meal plan cuts out much of sugary and high-fat foods, people may notice that they automatically reduce their intake of calories and lose weight.
Additionally, with the inclusion of proteins that keep people fuller for a longer period, followers of the DASH diet can easily notice that their snacking in between meals reduces. The result is a noticeable weight loss that accompanies lowered blood pressure levels.
Research suggests that following the DASH dietary pattern that is rich in satiating and high-fiber foods reduces abdominal obesity, body weight and waist circumference in only a span of 8 to 24 weeks.
Losing weight with the DASH diet is, crucially, an easy way to also lower your cholesterol, total fat, and saturated fat levels, all relevant to a reduction in blood pressure. It is constructive to overall health that further puts you at lesser risk of different medical complications.
Another key benefit of the DASH diet is not being a crash diet, or something you perform as a knee jerk reaction. It is not a quick fix. Besides, a crash diet is proven to be unsustainable. It also weakens your immune system, deprives your body of essential nutrients, and increases your risk of dehydration, cardiac stress and heart palpitations. Rebound and rapid weight gain is also common.
Instead, the DASH diet is a sustainable way of life that can help you maintain a healthy weight by following the DASH guidelines, and something you can keep for life. Thanks to the appetite-satiating approach that is natural with the diet. It is the perfect eating plan for the family easy to implement as you go on. A favorable outcome is having your family live on and grow with a healthy eating mindset.
Core Components of DASH Diet for Weight Loss 1. Protein Intake
Foods rich in protein are satisfying without affecting blood sugar levels. It can help prevent loss of muscle mass and boost metabolism while following a weight loss plan.2. Intake of Healthy Fats
There are heart healthy foods that can help promote satiety. These foods reduce the rate of blood sugar spikes and slow down digestion which help ensure a healthy metabolism.3. Mineral Intake
The meal plan is rich in minerals such as calcium, fiber, magnesium and potassium. It is low in sodium content. This combination is great in maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance. Also, it can help improve metabolic health and restore nutritional balance in overweight individuals who usually have nutrient deficiency.4. Low Carbohydrate Intake
A high amount of fruits and vegetables along with a low amount of carbs help your body reduce hunger while promoting satiety. With a low consumption of starchy foods, you can experience improved metabolic health, reduced cholesterol and blood lipids, regulated blood sugar, and reduced abdominal fat.
The weight loss you are able to achieve following the eating plan will also, in turn, help increase your energy levels. This is a fantastic opportunity that allows you to do a great deal more of exercise, which further aids in achieving a healthy weight. Regular exercise is an excellent partner to pair with healthy diet that is known to come with numerous benefits of its own like decreasing your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and some cancers known to be linked with obesity. Besides, being overweight has also been associated with depression, amongst many other mental health issues. Losing weight also helps sleeping patterns improve, which in itself has many different positive repercussions in everyday life - improved concentration, and lesser need for sweet foods and caffeinated drinks, to name a few.
Finally, the DASH diet with its added benefits on weight loss, not only helps lengthen lives, but does so in a healthier and happier way. Living the DASH lifestyle, followers find themselves leading a more content life.