DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. With its success of lowering blood pressure without the use of medications, the DASH diet gained popularity and has gone through a few improvements and variations, as well.
Like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet is not a fad diet, but more of a lifelong approach to healthy eating. Along with the benefit of lowering blood pressure, the DASH diet is good for lowering cholesterol and for making it easier for people to lose weight.
Additional benefits to the diet include supporting overall heart health and reducing inflammation. The benefits come from a key component of the diet, which is ensuring key nutrients are included.
In the case of lowering blood pressure, this is done with the DASH diet because of the inclusion of the nutrients potassium, calcium and magnesium from dietary sources.
Types of Foods & Suggested Servings
Generally, the DASH diet is rich in fruits and vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dairy. It also allows for grains (mostly whole grain products), lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts and beans.
In a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, the recommended servings of these foods are:
Grains: 6-8 servings a day
Vegetables: 4-5 servings a day
Fruits: 4-5 servings a day
Dairy: 2-3 servings a day
Lean meat/poultry/fish: 6 servings or less each day
Nuts, seeds & legumes: 4-5 servings a week
Fats and Oils: 2-3 servings a day
Sweets: 5 or less servings each week.
The goal of this diet is to be high in fiber and low to moderate in fat.
Another key component of this diet is that if follows US guidelines for sodium content, along with adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. In the standard DASH diet, you can consume up to 2,300mg of sodium a day.
There are a few different versions of the DASH diet, like the weight-loss version that is lower in calories or the lower sodium version where you can only consume 1,500mg a day.
All in all, it is a flexible eating plan, and some have even nicknamed it the Americanized version of the Mediterranean diet.
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