What’s the DASH diet?
The acronym ‘DASH’ stands for ‘Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension’. This dietary pattern is promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute based in the US.
The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. It also includes lean meat, fish, poultry, nuts and beans.
This diet is limited in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat, and added fats.
The DASH diet was designed to lower blood pressure first and foremost, but it’s also a well-balanced approach to eating for the general public.
The benefits of the DASH diet
Studies found that the DASH diet lowers blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks, and reduces systolic blood pressure by 14 points over time.
However, because the DASH diet is an overall healthy way of eating, it comes with many more health benefits and helps prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
What can you eat?
Vegetables and fruits: 4 to 5 servings per day each.
Broccoli, spinach, carrots, bananas, avocados… you name them. They’re all good for you.
Lean meat, poultry, fish: 6 servings or fewer per day.
They’re a good source of protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. However, keep in mind that the less meat you eat, the more vegetables you can add to your servings, and the fuller you’ll feel.
Grains: 6 to 8 servings per day
This is not a gluten-free diet, so you can have bread, cereals and pasta. However, you should eat as much whole grains as possible and avoid white, refined bread, rice, and pasta. Instead, look for products labelled ‘100% whole grains’ or ‘100% whole wheat’.
Dairy: 2 to 3 servings per day
Dairy is an important source of calcium, protein and vitamin D, but the DASH diet emphasises on the fact that these should be low-fat or fat-free. Also, go easy on cheese as it is usually high in sodium.
Fats: 2 to 3 servings per day
Fat is necessary: it helps your body absorb essential vitamins and is good for your immune system.
Focus on healthy fats by avoiding saturated and trans fats. These bad fats ate the main cause of coronary artery disease. Avoid processed foods as they usually contain a high amount of trans fats.
Nuts, seeds, legumes: 4 to 5 servings per week
These foods are high in calories and should be consumed a few times a week only.
They’re great sources of magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber.
Sweets: 5 servings or fewer per week
Of course, you can indulge from time to time to satisfy your sweet tooth, but it should never become a daily thing.
Go for fat-free or low-sugar sweets such as sorbets, fruit ices, graham crackers, jelly beans…Focus on natural sweeteners and cut back on foods containing added sugar which have no nutritional value and are just empty calories.
I don’t think the DASH diet is a diet strictly speaking but rather as a healthy way of eating using common sense. I believe this is how healthy people should eat on a daily basis. By now, you should know that I’m all about that balanced life!
This diet isn’t too restrictive, is easy to maintain long-term, and gives all the nutrients needed to be healthy. In fact, the USDA recommends the DASH diet as the ideal eating plan for all Americans.