The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and it was developed by the National Institutes of Health to help people lower high blood pressure. High blood pressure is also referred to as hypertension. The diet wasn’t necessarily meant to work as an all-purpose diet; however, it was voted the best way to lose weight by US News in 2011 for being easy to follow, safe for health, ability to prevent and control diabetes and ability to support health, according to US News.
Here are the main reasons that make the DASH diet one of the best ways to lose weight:
- It’s low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat
- It consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products
- It’s high in whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and seeds
- It consists of fewer sugary foods, beverages and red meats typically found in American diets
- It’s low in sodium
Dash Diet for High Blood Pressure
Research revealed that a diet program that contains less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day lowers blood pressure, and people who consume fewer than 1,500 mg of sodium can further lower their blood pressure. The diet also advises that those who typically suffer from high blood pressure such as African Americans, people who are middle-aged and older adults should aim to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium every day.
The DASH diet also recommends that people who suffer from kidney disease and diabetes avoid reduced-sodium products that contain potassium chloride as their main ingredient. People at risk for these diseases should check with their doctor before using any reduced-sodium products or salt substitutes that contain potassium chloride.
DASH Diet Plan
Dieters should ease into to the diet by adding one serving of vegetables and one serving of fruit to one meal each day. Then it’s advisable to go vegetarian for two or three meals during the week. People are encouraged to lower their sodium intake by using herbs and spices instead of salt.
The DASH diet promotes eating foods rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium because these nutrients are associated with lowering blood pressure without the need for medication.
According to US News, one study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that 144 participants lost an average of 19 pounds on the DASH diet, and another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that people who followed the DASH diet, stayed under 2,300 mg of sodium each day and exercised regularly lost significantly more pounds than those in a control group who were only given advice on lifestyle changes to reduce high blood pressure.
Research in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reveals, according to Lisa Nainggolan in the The Heart article “DASH Diet Helps Limit Weight Among Teen Girls,” that the DASH diet has helped preteen and teenage girls between the ages of nine and 19 reduce excessive weight, which may also help prevent excess weight gain as they get older.
How to Follow the DASH Diet
The Dash diet is based on the simple concept of eating fewer calories than you burn each day. You can also increase your activity level to burn more calories than you consume. The diet also takes into consideration your age and sex for caloric consumption because these factors affect how many calories your body tends to burn each day.
The DASH diet has plans for anyone to follow whether he or she is a vegetarian or vegan or needs a gluten-free, Kosher, low-salt or Halal food program. The diet is based on common foods found in grocery stores; it’s just up to individuals to choose the foods that conform to their eating preferences.
Find the recommendations for following the diet by checking out the DASH diet food plan from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s Web site.
Try These Web Sites for DASH Diet Recipes:
Keep in mind it’s important to always check with a doctor or health professional before starting any diet or exercise program. If you’ve been diligently trying but failing at losing extra pounds, there may be other reasons you’re not losing weight.
By making the DASH diet a part of your permanent lifestyle and exercising regularly, you should be able to shed those extra pounds, keep them off and improve your health.
“Best Diets Overall.” US News.
“Following the DASH Eating Plan.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
Nainggolan, Lisa. “DASH Diet Helps Limit Weight Among Teen Girls.” The Heart. June 7, 2011.