The ketogenic diet isn’t the only popular health trend at the moment. The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is one of the highest rated diets for heart health and weight loss. It’s not a mere fad diet, unlike many popular diets like Whole-30 or the carnivore. During the DASH diet, you don’t have to eliminate food groups; rather, it’s about making manageable changes and nutritional advances.
What Is The DASH Diet?
Like most diets, the DASH diet puts an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean protein. These foods are rich in beneficial, heart-healthy nutrients like calcium, fiber, antioxidants, protein, and potassium. DASH discourages foods like full-fat dairy products, tropical oils, sweets, sugary beverages, fatty meats, and foods rich in saturated fats. Additionally, you have to limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. Lower sodium DASH diet eventually brings this number down to about 1,500 mg per day.
The DASH diet is meant for long-term maintenance. Nutritionists relate the it to the Mediterranean diet, and both of them are tied for the best overall diet. By balancing protein, carbohydrate, fat, and other nutrient intake, you can experience better heart health and weight loss.
How Does DASH Work?
One of the primary things that people love about the DASH diet is that there are no drastic dietary changes that take place. People start out by making small changes that they can manage. This can be as simple as adding an additional fruit or vegetable to every meal, or snacking on unsalted almonds in place of processed chips. One of the primary goals, however, is to use herbs and spices in place of salt.
When it comes to what people eat on this diet, the primary focus is on fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein, legumes, and nuts. Consuming less salt and increasing exercise are two elements of the diet that contribute to improved metabolic function and weight loss. One study monitored blood pressure levels of people who followed the DASH diet. When coupled with exercise and portion control, people experienced a reduction in blood pressure levels. They lowered blood pressure by 16 mmHg systolic and 9mmHg diastolic. If your blood pressure is considered high, you may want to consult your health care professional about how DASH can benefit your health and get you off blood pressure medication.
Whom Is DASH Good For?
This diet was specifically designed for people with high blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and American Heart Association (AHA) both promote this diet. If blood pressure readings are higher than 130 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and higher than 80 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure, DASH may offer assistance with reducing levels.
People who eat processed foods, sugary drinks, packaged snacks, excess red meat, fried foods, and refined grains can benefit from DASH. It’s a lower sodium diet, which is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, or those who are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Because the diet is rich in magnesium, calcium, fiber, and potassium, it’s possible to lower sodium levels in the body. Those are natural electrolytes that help the body release excess fluid that contributes to high blood pressure. People who are overweight are typically deficient in these nutrients, so DASH corrects these deficiencies to promote optimal health.
The Average DASH Diet Eating Plan
- 6-8 servings of whole grains daily
- 6 or fewer servings of lean protein, or wild-caught fish
- 4-5 servings of fruit
- 4-5 servings of vegetables
- 2-3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- 2-3 servings of healthy fats (avocado oil, nuts, olive oil, etc.)
Daily Nutritional Goals on DASH
- Total fat is less than 27% of calories
- Protein is less than 18% of calories
- Cholesterol is 150 mg or less per day
- Saturated fat is less than 6% of calories
- Fiber is 30 grams or more per day
- Carbohydrates are more than 55% of calories
When it comes to weight loss or weight management in relation to calories, you may need to adjust them for your health goals. The DASH plan provides information for diets that have 1,200, 1,400, 1,600, 1,800, 2,000, 2,600, or 3,100 calories per day.