Have you ever heard of the DASH diet? If not, here is a complete guide to the DASH diet plan that is aimed at lowering your high blood pressure and improving your overall health.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH Diet) is a healthy eating plan exclusively designed for people with hypertension to lower blood pressure by making some changes in diet. The National Institutes of Health has conducted many studies to come up with a diet plan that can lower blood pressure without medication. The DASH diet eating plan can significantly lower blood pressure and offer a number of health benefits. It is not only beneficial for people with hypertension or prehypertension, but it is also a healthy plan for your whole family.
What is the DASH Diet?
The DASH diet is solely based on eating vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, low-sodium foods, lean meats, and whole-grain foods. This healthy diet plan is high in fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium and a number of other essential nutrients that help lower blood pressure. When you are following this eating plan, you are required to cut back on foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, sugary drinks and high-sodium foods that can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and heart diseases.
It is a great diet plan for people with hypertension or has a strong family history of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. The diet meets the low-sodium requirements and restricts red meat, salt, added sugar and saturated fats which makes the DASH diet one of the best diet plans to improve your overall well-being.
Types of DASH Diet
Here are two types of DASH diets available; you can choose the one that best meets your health needs.
The Standard DASH Diet
This diet plan limits sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day.
The Lower-Sodium DASH Diet
This diet plan limits sodium consumption to 1,500 mg per day.
Benefits of Following the DASH Diet Plan
The DASH diet is a great eating plan for people to maintain their blood pressure, but it is also a healthy diet plan for anyone who wants to stay healthy and fit. One of the best parts about following the DASH diet is that it focuses on whole foods that are low in saturated fats, added sugars and small portions that will eventually lead to weight loss.
Here are some potential health benefits of following a DASH diet plan.
Lower Blood Pressure
Several studies have shown that people who follow the DASH diet plan can lower blood pressure in both healthy people and those with hypertension. Another study suggests that people who stick to the DASH diet were experienced a reduction in blood pressure even if they didn’t eat low-sodium foods and reduce belly fat. However, people with restricted sodium intake were experienced with reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It clearly shows that the diet with low-sodium intake can significantly reduce blood pressure in those people who have hypertension.
The DASH diet is exclusively designed to lower blood pressure. Weight loss is an added perk of sticking to the DASH diet; it is not intended to help you shed weight. If you have high blood pressure, then you are advised to lose weight as being overweight can increase your chances of developing stroke, heart failure, and other heart disorders. Losing weight will eventually help you lower blood pressure.
Some studies have shown that people who follow the DASH diet can maintain a healthy weight and shed extra pounds. Keep in mind that the DASH diet is free from high-fat, sugary drinks that will automatically reduce your calorie intake and encourage weight loss. Whether you are on the DASH diet, keto diet, Atkins diet, plant-based diet or any other weight loss diet plan, low-calorie intake is the key to lose weight.
Help Prevent Diabetes
The DASH diet can also lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by improving insulin resistance. A study published in Current Hypertension Reports clearly shows that following a DASH diet plan and exercise regimen significantly reduced insulin resistance, which is important for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.
Provide All the Essential Nutrients
The DASH diet emphasizes on clean eating and includes fresh and unprocessed foods. The diet is loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and other important nutrients needed for maintaining healthy body functions and promoting optimal health.
Promote Cardiovascular Health
A study conducted on a group of people with type 2 diabetes who followed the DASH diet plan had a lower risk of stroke, heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases than those who didn’t follow the DASH diet.
Help Prevent Cancer
The DASH diet plan provides you with potent antioxidants that have an anti-inflammatory effect that prevent inflammation and growth of cancer cells. A recent study shows that people strictly following the DASH diet plan had a lower risk of developing breast and colorectal cancer.
Some other benefits of following the DASH diet includes:
- Improve cholesterol levels
- Promote kidney function
- Improve eye health
- Lower the risk of metabolic syndrome
DASH Diet Meal Plan – What to Eat
- Grains (mainly whole grains)
- Low Fat or No-Fat Dairy Foods
- Lean meats, poultry, and fish
- Nuts, seeds and dry beans
- Fats and Oils
The DASH diet is an eating pattern that is mainly focused on specific servings of food groups:
|Food groups||Number of servings for 1600 – 3100 Calorie diets||Servings on a 2000 Calorie diet|
|Grains, preferably whole grain (3 whole-grain foods each day)||6 – 12||7 – 8|
|Fruits||3 – 6||3 – 5|
|Vegetables||4 – 6||4 – 5|
|Low fat or non-fat dairy foods||2 – 4||2 – 3|
|Lean meats, fish, or poultry||1.5 – 2.5||2 or less|
|Nuts, seeds, and legumes||3 – 6 per week||4 – 5 per week|
|Fats and Oils||2 – 4 per week||limited|
DASH Diet Plan – Daily Nutritional Goals
Saturated fat: 6 %of calories
Protein: 18 % of calories
Carbohydrates: 55 % of calories
Cholesterol: 150 mg
Fiber: 30 grams
DASH Diet Menu
The DASH diet is all about eating lots of veggies and fruits and consuming whole grains, healthy fats and lean meat. It makes the DASH diet an effective weight loss diet plan than other popular diets, including Atkins diet, ketogenic diet, low-carb diet and more.
If you are thinking of starting the DASH diet, here is a 7 days DASH diet menu that will help lower blood pressure, lose weight, and reduce the risk of diabetes:
Oatmeal with blueberries, fresh orange juice or egg toast with salsa
Apple and low-fat yogurt
Tuna and mayonnaise sandwich or baked potato topped with low-fat cheese
Banana or peach
Lean chicken breast, brown rice, cooked spinach or lemon-herb salmon with caponata and Farro
Fig and Honey Yogurt, Egg white omelet with bell pepper
Banana or grapes
Tuna salad lettuce wrap or White Bean & Avocado Salad
Low-fat yogurt or peach
Curried Cauliflower Steaks with Red Rice & Tzatziki
Peanut-Butter Cinnamon Toast
Bean salad with balsamic vinaigrette or Mediterranean chicken with orzo salad
Whole-wheat blueberry pancakes
Turkey and broccoli crepe or salmon pita sandwich
Yogurt with Nuts & Raspberries
Stuffed Sweet Potato with Hummus Dressing
Strawberries and cream
White Bean & Avocado Toast or Mediterranean-style grilled salmon
Boiled eggs, turkey bacon, baked beans, whole-wheat toast, fresh orange juice
Strawberry banana milkshake
Chicken and asparagus tossed with penne or grilled chicken salad with olives and oranges
Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes, baked cod with lemon and capers
Oatmeal with raisins and honey or apple cinnamon muffins
Strawberries or blueberries
Grilled chicken with zucchini, or black bean wrap
Orange or whole-grain crackers
Curried chicken wrap or barley and roasted tomato risotto
Egg Toast with Salsa
Hummus or Roasted potatoes with garlic and herbs
Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes or Lemon-Garlic Shrimp over Orzo with Zucchini
Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms
DASH Diet Recipes
Here are some delicious DASH recipes you can add to the DASH diet meal plan:
- Buffalo chicken salad wrap
- Chicken burritos
- Shrimp & Nectarine Salad
- Chicken sliders
- Grilled portobello mushroom burgers
- Pork Chops with Tomato Curry
- Grilled salmon on sourdough bread
- Thai Chicken Pasta Skillet
- Tuna pita pockets
- Tuna salad sandwiches
- Chili-Lime Grilled Pineapple
- Turkey wrap
- Italian Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini
- Tomato Green Bean Soup
- Cannellini Bean Hummus
- Portobello Mushrooms Florentine
- Beef and Blue Cheese Penne with Pesto
- Sesame Chicken Veggie Wraps
- Ricotta, Tomato & Corn Pasta
- Salmon with Horseradish Pistachio Crust
Are You Ready to Follow the DASH Diet?
If you are all set to give the DASH diet a try, it is recommended to adopt changes carefully. For instance, if you eat vegetables once a day, add another serving. If you eat fruits occasionally, add a serving of fruits to your meals or start having fruit juice at breakfast. Limit your meat intake, one serving a day is enough. Eat plant-based protein, such as lentils, peanuts, almonds, edamame, chickpeas, quinoa, chia seeds and more.
A Word from Explore Diet
It is a good idea to prevent and treat hypertension through diet. Despite the fact that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure; it can also reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and cancer. If you have high blood pressure, DASH diet would be a healthy choice for healthier living. Try it.