What is the DASH Diet, and Why do Doctors recommend It?
Dash diet is considered the most effective and healthy diet for improving overall health. According to U.S. News and the National Institutes of Health, the Dash diet scored 3.3 out of 5 in the “weight loss effectiveness” category and 4.5 out of 5 in the “Health Usefulness” category. Out of 40 diets evaluated, this diet was called no 1.
So, what is the DASH diet, and why is it called “The DASH Diet”?
“DASH” stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a balanced and flexible diet plan that helps to cut the extra weight gradually, even for those with obesity. Fun fact, no starving or yo-yo dieting is needed. It won’t shock or stress your body out as well.
DASH diet was developed to treat or stop high blood pressure in those with hypertriton. But experts found out later on that this diet can resolve plenty of other health issues.
It can resolve:
– Bring down weight to a healthy level.
– Heart failure issue
– Prevent stroke
The DASH diet is also known as the best diet to prevent diabetes. Besides controlling blood pressure, people following it manages to improve insulin resistance.
Why is it called easy and effective?
The DASH diet includes all the necessary nutrients and minerals, which include calcium, potassium, magnesium, protein, and fiber. These nutrients are responsible for brain and overall organ function. This diet also improves the condition of your hair and skin.
What’s great about the diet is that you don’t need to monitor and count each nutrient. All you need to do is to lessen your salt intake and consume certain recommended foods, such as – Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products.
How is it different from other diets?
In comparison to other popular diets, the DASH diet is entirely different. This diet is for those who need to take care of their eating habit throughout their lives. There is no complete cutting carbs or starving involved. You can have all sorts of tasty dishes while remembering a few general rules.
What is the meal plan for the DASH diet?
The DASH diet doesn’t list specific foods to eat or not. Instead, it recommends specific servings of different food groups. The number of servings you can have depends on your daily calorie needs. Below is an example of a 2,000 Cal a day DASH diet:
Whole Grains: 6 to 8 serving/ day
These include whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, Whole-grain breakfast cereals, brown rice, bulgur, and oatmeal.
- One slice of whole-grain bread
- 1 oz of dry and whole-grain cereal
- ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta
Vegetable: 4 to 5 servings/day
You can have all types of green vegetables.
- 1 cup of leafy green vegetables that includes spinach or kale.
- ½ cup of sliced vegetables like broccoli, carrot, or tomato (Raw or cooked included)
Fruit: 4 to 5 servings/day
If you follow the DASH approach, you’ll have to eat lots of fruits. You can eat fruit like apples, pears, peaches, berries, mango, pineapple, etc.
- One medium apple.
- ¼ cup of dried apricot.
- ½ cup of fresh frozen or canned peaches.
Dairy product: 2 to 3 servings/day.
Dairy products should be low-fat. These include skim milk, low-fat cheese, and yogurt.
- 1 cup of low-fat milk
- 1 cup of yogurt
- 5 ounces of low-fat cheese.
Non-veg: 6 or fewer servings/day.
On the DASH diet, you can have lean-fat non-veg, including lean chicken, fish, and more. You can have red meat too, but only occasionally – no more than once or twice weak.
- 1 ounce of chicken or fish
- One egg
Nuts and Seeds: 4 to 5 servings/week.
These include almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower, seeds, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, etc.
- 1/3 cup of nuts.
- Two tablespoons of nut butter.
- Two tablespoons of seeds.
- ½ cup of cooked legumes.
Fats and Oils: 2 to 3 Serving/day
On a DASH diet, you should always prefer vegetable oils over others. These include margarine and oils like corn, olive, or safflower. It also suggests low-fat mayonnaise and light salad dressing.
- One teaspoon of soft margarine.
- One teaspoon of vegetable oil.
- One tablespoon of mayonnaise.
- Two tablespoons of salad dressing.
Candy and added sugars: 5 or fever serving/day.
If you have sweet teeth, you’ll need to control yourself. You don’t have to stop eating sweet foods, just no more than five times a week.
- One tablespoon of sugar.
- One tablespoon of jam.
- One cup of lemonade.
Drinking Fluids: per day
Drink 67 ounces of fluids per day ideally. It could still be water or green tea. Just consume tea within the limit – no more than four cups/day.
What to avoid?
Of course, it is a diet and lifestyle change, so you have to avoid all the typical unhealthy products, such as fast-food, fatty meat, chips, soda, candies, and cookies & other sweets. Because our bodies build despondency on junk foods, you should eliminate harmful products gradually.
Don’t try to go cold turkey! You will be only setting yourself up for failure. Take baby steps, and over time your cravings will be gone.
You also have to avoid soda and alcohol because too much alcohol elevates your blood pressure. It is also bad for your liver, heart, and brain.
Limit your snacks to no more than per day in between meals.
Tobacco is prohibited.
Reduce your salt intake – maximum of two to three teaspoons/day. Your diet should include whole-wheat bread and exclude smoke or pickles, or pastries.
Weight loss benefits.
As we mentioned earlier, the DASH diet was not originally designed for weight loss. But some studies show DASH can help eliminate unwanted pounds. In 2006, researchers 810 divided adults with borderline to mild Hypertension into three groups. The researchers gave some usual guidance to the first group on how to change their lifestyle, so that they could get their blood pressure under control. The second one was advised to keep their sodium intake under 2300 ml/day. Exercise and limit their alcohol consumption. And the third group had to follow the same directions as the second group but also eat according to the DASH diet rule.
A year later, 50% of people from the second group became around eight pounds lighter, while those from the dash group lost an average of nine and a half pounds. These results were significantly better than the first group result who managed to drop only three pounds on average.