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The DASH Diet

The DASH Diet

The DASH Diet, created in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The objective is to lower and prevent high blood pressure by reducing salt intake and incorporating more of the following nutrients: Potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. The diet recommends avoiding red meat, sugar, and saturated fat.

The DASH Diet considers the willingness of participants to alter their lifestyle approach, encouraging gradual changes dependent on current lifestyle. DASH includes quantifying daily caloric intake based on age, gender, and activity level. Once the number of daily calories is determined, the number of servings per food category can be measured.

A subcategory of the DASH Diet includes the DASH-Sodium Diet, which adds to the parameters outlined above by also breaking down daily salt intake into two categories. For the majority of people, it’s recommended that daily sodium intake is kept under 2,300 mg. For people with high blood pressure, it should be kept under 1,500 mg. The DASH Diet encourages gradual reduction of daily salt intake from 2,300 mg to 1,500 mg, allowing the body time to adjust.

 

Foods to include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Lean poultry
  • Lean fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy oils 

Foods to avoid:

  • Full-fat dairy
  • High-fat poultry and fish
  • Breaded and fried foods
  • High-sodium foods
  • Added salt
  • Refined grains
  • Processed foods
  • Trans fat

Pros:

  • Doesn’t restrict any food group, making it easier to sustain
  • Emphasizes whole foods
  • Balanced approach
  • Can be a lifestyle rather than a diet
  • Many may benefit from decreasing salt and sugar consumption 

Cons:

  • Requires certain number of daily servings from each food group, not taking into consideration vegans, vegetarians, and those who are lactose intolerant
  • Some types benefit from red meat, which is prohibited on this plan
  • Some benefit from high quality full-fat dairy


Sources:

Dash Diet www.health.usnews.com (Links to an external site.)
The Dash Diet Eating Plan www.dashdiet.org (Links to an external site.)
High Blood Pressure and the Dash Diet www.webmd.com (Links to an external site.)
Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH www.nhlni.nih.gov (Links to an external site.)

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