In the world full of weight loss diet, we have the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or the DASH diet, which is believed to help treat hypertension or high blood pressure. The DASH diet encourages you to reduce sodium intake in your diet and add more variety of foods rich in nutrients that help reduce blood pressure levels. Is this diet effective? What does it really preach? Does it compromise on what is called a 'balanced diet?' Let's find out.
What is DASH Diet?
Also known as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, this diet focuses on reducing your blood pressure levels and encourages healthy eating. It promotes eating less sodium and loading up on potassium, magnesium and calcium rich to regulate blood pressure. According to the Mayo Clinic, the DASH diet is a healthy way of eating; it offers health benefits just lowering blood pressure. The DASH diet is said to be in line with dietary recommendations to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
This diet focuses on reducing your blood pressure levels
DASH diet is altered according to the dietary needs of the person and the intensity of hypertension. Therefore, in addition to the standard DASH diet, which allows you to consume up to 2,300 milligram of sodium a day, there is a lower version of the diet. Here's what the two versions have to offer:
- Standard DASH diet: One can consume up to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day
- Lower sodium DASH diet: One can consume up to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day
Both the versions aim at reducing the amount of sodium, which further helps in reducing blood pressure levels and the risk of developing other cardiovascular diseases.
What does the DASH diet recommend eating?
This diet is plant-focused that is rich in vegetables, fruits and nuts along with low-fat and non-fat dairy products, which are great sources of healthy fats. Basically, the diet emphasises lowering sodium intake by eating whole foods over processed foods.
This diet is plant-focused that is rich in vegetables, fruits and nuts
Does the DASH diet work?
The DASH diet outlines a generally healthy diet that anyone can benefit from. Its basic principle is to eat a nutrient rich yet not calorie-dense diet, which has shown to not only reduce blood pressure levels but also promote weight loss. The American Heart Association (AHA) also recommends this diet and according to it, "In addition to being easy to follow, delicious and varied, the DASH eating plan is proven effective." The AHA promotes eating and avoiding the following foods-
Aim to eat foods like:
- Whole grains
- Low fat dairy products
- Nuts and legumes
- Non-tropical vegetable oils
- Skinless poultry and fish
DASH Diet promotes eating nuts and seeds
Limit foods like:
- Saturated trans fat
- Red meat
- Sweet and sugar-sweetened beverages
If you are planning to follow this diet, make sure you consult a Nutritionist or a Dietitian who can help make just the right plan for you.