Dash Diet

The Dash Diet – or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – is a diet designed to reduce high blood pressure or hypertension.

Principle of the Dash diet

The Dash Diet is a diet designed to assist those with hypertension – otherwise known as high blood pressure. Untreated hypertension can be dangerous because it can overwork the heart and damage arteries.

The Dash Diet is low in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods.

What are you allowed to eat?

The following foods are encouraged on the Dash diet:

  • Wholegrains – such as wholemeal bread;
  • Vegetables;
  • Fruit;
  • Low-fat and fat-free dairy products;

The following should be eaten in moderation:

  • Meats – including poultry (skinless), lean red meat and seafood;
  • Small amount of sweets – such as 1 tablespoon jelly or sugar, or half an oz of jellybeans per week.

What is forbidden?

Nothing is expressly forbidden on the Dash Diet, although the following should be limited:

  • Canned, smoked or cured meat – such as bacon;
  • Food packed in brine – such as pickles and olives;
  • Table salt.

Pros and Cons of the Dash diet

The Dash Diet has been developed under the guidance of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). It has been clinically proven to reduce hypertension in patients, and is one of the relatively few diets that can claim to have been thoroughly tested before being recommended on a large scale.

The Dash Diet advocates healthy eating habits as well a change in foods consumed. For instance, the Dash Diet advocates eating three meals a day, or six smaller meals.

The Dash Diet can be difficult to start, because it advocates eating larger amounts of fruits, vegetables and grains than most are accustomed. The sudden rise in grain consumption – and hence fiber – can cause indigestion and diarrhea in the early stages.

The change in sodium consumption can also be difficult to adjust at first, since many conventional foods contain salt, and using salt as a condiment is a common practice. Salt can be replaced by other spices which can help the adjustment. Also, the consumption of foods that have a lower sodium level in the Dash Diet further helps the adjustment.

Generally, the Dash Diet is easy to maintain because there are no rigid rules. Its variety and numerous recipes ensures that the diet will not become stale and cravings will not develop.

Daily and Weekly Plans for the Dash diet

There is a general daily plan for the Dash Diet:

  • Grains and grain products: 7-8 servings.
  • Vegetables and fruit: 4-5 servings.
  • Low-fat and fat-free dairy products: 2-3 servings.
  • Meats: 2 servings or fewer.

There is also a broad weekly plan for the Dash Diet, covering the following:

  • Nuts, seeds and legumes: 4-5 servings per week.
  • Sweets: 5 per week.

Expected Weight Loss on the Dash diet

There are no reports on expected weight loss on the Dash Diet, as it is intended primarily for reducing hypertension. However, since it advocates consuming less calories, you will most likely lose weight while on the Dash Diet.

Dash Diet Rating

Ease: 4/5 – The initial starting period can be difficult, but afterwards the Dash Diet is an easy diet.

Balance: 5/5

Maintenance: 5/5 – After the initial adjustment period, staying on the Dash Diet is easy due to its variety.

Overall: 5/5