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What is the DASH diet?

by Souti
DASH diet

Nowadays, DASH diet is gaining great popularity for controlling blood pressure levels. The full form of DASH is Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Through this dietary program, you can control your hypertension your whole life. The DASH diet endeavors to lower your sodium intake and encourages you to consume various nutrient-rich foods to manage the level of blood pressure.

If you are following this DASH diet religiously, then you might be able to lower your blood pressure quite noticeably in just two weeks. Over a period of time, your systolic blood pressure could even reduce by eight to fourteen points, which can make big changes to your health.

What to consume?

The DASH diet always encourages healthy eating. So not only it manages your blood pressure level, it can also support you in averting stroke, cancer, diabetes, heart ailments and osteoporosis.

This process puts focus on fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy products along with moderate quantities of nuts, whole grain, fish, and poultry. You can also have small quantities of red meat, fats, and sweets. This diet plan emphasizes on low cholesterol and low saturated fat diet.

Along with this usual Dash diet option, they also have a low sodium intake options, such as

Standard DASH diet: In this, you can have almost 2,300 milligrams of sodium regularly.

Low sodium DASH diet: This version recommends 1,500 mg sodium intake daily.

Here’s a look at the recommended servings for each food group for the 2,000-calorie-a-day DASH diet.

The Mechanics of DASH diet

NHLBI, the national heart, lung and blood institute, the creator of DASH diet has published some guidelines in the form of PDF for the dietary plans associated with DASH diet. These guidelines will help you in determining your net calorie consumption based on your level of activity and age. One thing that is common to all the variants is that all of them tell you to be careful about the amount of salt you consume.

Normally you should go for a 2000 calorie per day diet. This dietary plan includes four to five veggies and a similar amount of fruits , six to eight portions of grains , not more than six servings of fish , poultry , lean variety of meat ( each serving amounts to one ounce ), two to three low fat dairy products, nuts, legumes and seeds four to five ( per week ), two to three servings of oils and fats and not more than five sweets every week. This is a rough picture of how your DASH diet should look like. The main goal is to cap your sodium consumption to 2300 milligrams per day initially and then gradually inching it closer to around 1500 milligrams per day.

You should gradually ease yourself into the DASH diet routine. Try adding more herbs and spices to your food. That will gradually remove the feeling of not having enough salt in your food.

However, never consider DASH diet as an alternative to physical exercise. Physical activities go hand in hand with DASH diet. You should always consult your physician before you embark on this adventure. Your physician can give you more pointers on how to further streamline your DASH diet plans. These plans can also help you in achieving weight loss. The goal is to be active and have a healthy diet.

Does DASH Diet aid in weight loss?

Though this particular diet program is not designed for losing weight, however, DASH diet has the ability to help you cut some pounds.

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, in the year 2010, around one forty-four adults, who were overweight were selected for any one of the following approaches: DASH plus exercise and classes on weight loss, and a controlled diet where they can enjoy their regular eating habits but in a controlled manner. After 4 months it was seen that individuals who were on the DASH diets lost on an average 19 pounds whereas those who were on other plans barely lost weight and in some cases even gained a few pounds.
Another study was conducted in 2006 where around 810 adult individuals having high pressure or borderline high pressure was divided into 3 groups.
The first group was advised to make lifestyle changes. The second group was advised to cap their sodium intake to around 2300 milligrams per day, lose some weight and limit their alcohol consumption. The third group was put on a DASH diet and eighteen months later it was found that the first group lost around 3.5 pounds and the second group lost around 8 pounds, the third group which was on a DASH diet lost almost 9.5 pounds that was significantly higher than any of the two groups.
One of the steps your doctor may recommend to lower your high blood pressure is to start using the DASH diet.

During Dash diet, you need to do the following:

  • Focus on consuming more nuts, fish, whole grain foods and poultry.
  • Need to eat more low-fat dairy products, veggies, and fruits.
  • Make sure you limit your red meats, sodium intake, sugary drinks, and sweets.
  • Limit the consumption of foods products, which are high in cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fat.

Various studies have revealed that people who have religiously followed the DASH diet, were able to reduce their blood pressure levels in two weeks.

How to design your DASH diet?

  • Add a serving of vegetables during lunch and dinner.
  • Add a serving of fruits to your meals or have them as a snack. Canned and dried fruits are easy to use, but check whether they don’t have added sugar.
  • Use only half of your typical serving of butter, margarine, or salad dressing, and use low-fat or fat-free condiments.
  • Drink low-fat or skimmed dairy products any time you would normally use full-fat or cream.
  • Limit consumption of meat to 6 ounces per day. Make some meals vegetarian.
  • Add more vegetables and dry beans to your diet.
  • Instead of snacking on chips or sweets, eat unsalted pretzels or nuts, raisins, low-fat and fat-free yogurt, frozen yogurt, unsalted plain popcorn with no butter, and raw vegetables.
  • Read food labels to choose products that are low in sodium.

If you want to stay on the DASH diet strictly, then you need to follow some tips, like:

  • Fruits: Four to Five regularly
  • Veggies: Four to Five per day.
  • Grains: seven to eight daily.
  • Sweets: Work hard to limit them to five serving weekly.
  • Dry beans, seeds, and nuts: Four to five serving per week.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products: Two to three regularly.
  • Oils and fats: Two to three servings per day.
  • Fish, poultry, and meat: two or even less daily.

To follow the healthy eating plan religiously, you need to know about the servings:

  • Eight ounces of milk
  • One slice of bread
  • For tofu, make it three ounces
  • Fruits and cooked vegetables half a cup
  • Cooked meat three ounces
  • Pasta or cooked rice half a cup
  • Oil one teaspoon
  • Raw vegetables or fruits one cup.

Along with controlling your blood pressure level, various studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in the year of 2016 have shown the following:

When you combine DASH diet with exercise along with a weight loss program, the DASH diet could support you in lowering of the insulin resistance, which is a huge shot in the arm for your fight against Type 2 Diabetes. By following DASH diet, you can also improve your kidney as well as your heart health.

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