All About: The DASH Diet

Sphygmomanometer showing a blood pressure of 140

What is the DASH Diet? Does it work? Is it healthy or unhealthy? Learn all of the above and more.

Why was the DASH Diet created?

One of the leading causes of death in the United States and in other parts of the globe is hypertension or high blood pressure. According to the World Health Organization in 2019, around 1.13 billion people have it and only a small percentage have it under control.

If you are at risk of hypertension or you often experience it, controlling it is important because it can lead to kidney failure, heart attack, and premature death. Fortunately, there are ways to get our blood pressure stable without having to spend too much money on medicine. One of them is doing a diet known as the DASH Diet.

What is the DASH Diet?

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, also known as DASH, is a special type of diet that is designed to help people prevent or treat high blood pressure and reduce the chances of heart attack or premature death.

It is said that the diet, developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), was inspired by vegans and vegetarians because their diet enables them to prevent hypertension from occurring. Most of the food included in the diet are fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. All of them have less salt and fat content, which is perfect to reduce hypertension.

Does the DASH Diet work? What are the benefits of it?

Studies have shown that the DASH Diet works if people strictly follow their meal program. In a study by the NHLBI in 2017, for instance, participants with pre or stage 1 hypertension who were asked to follow the diet reported that their systolic blood pressure (SBP) lowered after following the diet. Those with high SBP also saw great reductions when they followed the diet plan.

Considering its effectiveness, the DASH Diet has the following benefits:

  • It can lower a person’s blood pressure
  • It has the potential to help people lose weight
  • It reduces the risk of cancers like colorectal cancer
  • It reduces the risk of diabetes and heart attack

Is the DASH Diet safe?

The DASH Diet is safe to use and it has been recognized by various health organizations for its capacity to help people lower their blood pressure. In 2018, the US News and World Report ranked the DASH Diet as the 8th best diet overall and 1st best diet for heart disease prevention and healthy eating. The report also expounded on the diet’s easy-to-follow nature and the fact the meals are very effective in preventing other diseases.

Tips in building your DASH Diet shopping list, meal plan, and menu

Ready to start your journey into DASH Diet? Here are some tips you can work with while sorting out your shopping list, meal plan and menu:

  1. Prepare your list early on to determine what ingredients you will need for your DASH menu, which you can prepare in advance.
  2. Buy fresh foods because they have low salt, fat and sugar content. Fresh foods also have more vitamins and minerals than processed food.
  3. Check the labels for other food items you can use for your diet. Check their sodium and fat content and pick the ones that have low values.
  4. Remember what food items are DASH Diet-approved. As mentioned above, the diet focuses on introducing meals with low sodium content and they often include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean meats, and natural herbs. A whole grain is simply a grain like rice in its original intact form versus eating a processed derivative like rice flour. Eating whole grains instead of refined grains has a variety of benefits including more nutrients, more fiber, and better satiety.
  5. Buy the right cookware to help you keep the nutritional content of your ingredients. Get a steamer and a non-stick pan, which does not require butter or oil to cook.
  6. When its time for you to cook, pick the meals that love and substitute the ingredients to follow the diet. For example, instead of using salt to add flavors to your vegetables and lean meat, why not use spices? You can also use foods like tofu, whole-wheat pasta or brown rice to reduce the meat in your meals.

DASH Diet Books

DASH Diet Recipes

DASH Diet Apps

Looking for more diet ideas?

Try our free Diet Optimizer Quiz and get quick, unique, customized ideas like:

  • Healthier options than soda that taste better than water.
  • Alternatives to french fries, potato chips, or other fried foods.
  • How to get your chocolate fix without the junk ingredients in candy bars.
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