DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that’s designed to treat or help prevent high blood pressure. Most people are concerned with losing weight when they go on a diet, but lowering your blood pressure offers many health benefits as well.
How does the DASH diet work?
The DASH diet focuses on getting you to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet while also introducing more foods rich in nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
By eating foods that contain these healthy nutrients, you have the possibility of reducing your blood pressure by a few points in as little as two weeks. Over time, it is not uncommon to see your blood pressure drop by eight to fourteen points. This can have a serious impact on your overall health and reduce your chances of suffering from heart disease.
While the DASH diet is centered around lowering your blood pressure, there are other health benefits associated with the diet because of the healthy food that you will eat. The DASH diet can also help your body ward off other negative health effects such as osteoporosis, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. You may also see a reduction in weight simply because you are following a healthier daily diet.
What can I eat while on the DASH diet?
The DASH diet is predicated on reducing the amount of sodium you ingest daily. The Standard DASH diet limits you to 2,300 milligrams of sodium in a day, while the Lower Sodium DASH diet will restrict you to just 1,500 milligrams per day. Making a conscious effort to reduce your daily sodium intake will greatly increase your odds of lowering your blood pressure.
The main types of foods recommended to eat while on the DASH diet include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
You can also eat some fish, poultry, and legumes as well as small amounts of red meat, sweets and fats.
It is recommended that you eat 6 to 8 servings of grains (bread, cereal, rice and pasta) per day along with 4 to 5 servings of vegetables.
Add in 4 to 5 servings of fruit and 2 to 3 servings per day of dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese and you will be well on your way to creating a balanced meal plan that follows the DASH diet.