Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is also known as the DASH diet. According to the US News & World Report, this diet plan consistently ranked as a top diet for weight loss and lowering blood pressure. Unlike the ketogenic diet that requires restrictions on essential food groups without any scientific evidence or consumption of foods with high calories, the DASH diet suggests suitable dietary modifications. Additionally, it also involves flexible and consistent nutrition recommendations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the primary cause of death among women and men in the United States. Due to this reason, the DASH diet plan has become popular among dietitians, doctors, and other health experts.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the significant factors contributing to a range of heart diseases. These health conditions affect one in every three adults in America, as per the CDC. However, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), in addition to America, heart disease is also a significant health problem that causes death globally.
What is a DASH Diet plan?
The DASH diet especially helps cut down high blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, has promoted this eating plan. The AHA considers hypertension to be 80 mm Hg for diastolic and 130 mm Hg systolic.
The food involved in the DASH diet closely resembles the US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate dietary recommendations. This diet plan proposes a food plan, which primarily focuses on whole foods. It includes low-fat or fat-free whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and lean meat, such as poultry and fish. Meanwhile, it also recommends avoiding or preferably eliminating the consumption of processed foods. These foods include packaged snacks and sugary drinks. In addition, it also requires limiting red meat, which may cause poor heart health, leading to heart failure.
Furthermore, this diet plan fulfills the need for limited use of table salt that helps manage high blood pressure. It means this diet plan is the best option for people with high blood pressure or who have a family or personal history of heart conditions. Additionally, it also benefits people at risk for type 2 diabetes and is managing this disease.
Types of the DASH diet plan
There are two types of the DASH diet plan. People can choose any type depending on their health needs:
1. The Standard DASH Diet
This plan limits the dieters from taking 2,300 milligrams of salt in a day.
2. The Low-Salt DASH Diet
This type of diet plan further restricts the dieters to take only 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.
What is included in the DASH diet plan?
NHLBI recommends the daily DASH Eating Plan that also includes various high-nutrient foods on average, such as:
- 1. At least six to eight servings of whole grains
- 2. Maximum six servings of lean meat, such as fish and poultry
- 3. Four to five servings of vegetables
- 4. Four to five servings of fruit
- 5. Maximum two to three servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy products, preferably fat-free for managing weight, like in case of diabetes
- 6. Two to three servings of oils or healthy fat
Nutritional goals of the DASH diet
The daily nutritional goals of the DASH diet plan are as follows:
- 1. The overall fat consumption should be 27% of calories
- 2. Protein should be 18% of calories
- 3. Saturated fat should be a maximum of 6% of calories
- 4. Carbohydrates should be 55% of calories
- 5. Fiber should be at least 30 grams
- 6. Cholesterol should limit to only 150 mg
Furthermore, dieters can modify the daily calories intake in the DASH diet plan. It could be 3,100, 2,600, 2,000, 1,800, 1,600, 1,400, or 1,200, depending on their needs, such as weight maintenance or weight loss.
After choosing any calories intake, they need to track the nutrient and calories using any calories counter.
How does the DASH Diet cut down blood pressure?
This diet plan works by controlling the consumption of salt and saturated fat. Kimberley Rose-Francis (RDN, CDE), a Florida-based nutritionist, says high fat and salt consumption can harm heart health. Rose-Francis further says sodium salt can raise blood pressure that puts unnecessary strain on the heart muscle. On the other hand, saturated fat can increase blood cholesterol levels that potentially cause dropping or block blood flow to the heart. She adds that a continuous restriction in the blood flow could result in a heart attack.
In contrast, the foods included in the DASH diet, such as lean protein and other nutrients, help lower blood pressure.
The most important thing is that in addition to a healthy diet plan, people also need other healthy lifestyles that can manage hypertension if they want to cut back on their blood pressure. These habits could be losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and doing more exercise.
Sample DASH Diet menu for 7-day
The experts of Mayo Clinic said that the DASH diet plan recommends dieters to eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. However, it requires the consumption of some foods in only a reasonable amount. These foods include lean protein sources, whole grains, and healthy fats, such as nuts, fish, and poultry. This feature makes the DASH Diet different from other diet plans, including the high-fat, low-carb diet, the Atkins diet, and the ketogenic diet.
- 1. At least three ounces of turkey meatloaf
- 2. One small roll made of whole wheat
- 3. One small-sized baked potato with a topping of chopped scallion and one tablespoon of each of fat-free sour cream and low-fat cheese
- 4. One piece of fresh peach
- 5. Cooked spinach
- 1. Egg white omelet containing onion and bell pepper
- 2. A slice of toast made of whole grain
- 3. On-half of banana
- 4. Tuna salad wrapped with lettuce
- 5. One fresh apple
- 6. Four ounces of halibut with one-half cup of brown rice and a cup of asparagus
- 1. One cup of oatmeal that has been simmered with one teaspoon of raisins and one tablespoon of honey
- 2. One-half of cup strawberries
- 3. One-half of cup blueberries
- 4. Pita bread made of whole wheat stuffed with fresh peppers, lettuce, hummus, shredded carrots, and low-salt black beans
- 5. One fresh piece of peach
- 6. Four ounces of grilled chicken with one-half cup of zucchini
- 1. A slice of bread made of whole grain with one teaspoon of jam
- 2. One fresh piece of plum
- 3. A cup of honeydew melon
- 4. Bow tie pasta salad made of a three-fourth cup of whole-wheat pasta, one-quarter cup of peppers, one-quarter cup of chopped cucumber, one tablespoon of onion, and one tablespoon of olive oil
- 5. One-half of banana
- 6. One fresh apple
- 7. Four ounces of tilapia with each of one cup of cauliflower and green beans
- 1. A cup fruit salad made up of banana, melon, berries, or apple, topped with one-third cup of walnuts and a cup of fat-free yogurt
- 2. A cup of fat-free milk
- 3. Curried chicken wrapped with three ounces chicken breast, one-half cup of chopped apple, one and a half tablespoons of light mayonnaise, and one-half teaspoon curry powder dissolve in a tortilla made of whole wheat
- 4. One-half cup baby carrots
- 5. A bran muffin
- 6. A cup of spaghetti made of whole wheat topped with a cup of marinara sauce (without salt)
- 7. Two cups of green salad topped with one tablespoon of low-fat Caesar
- 8. A small roll made of whole wheat, dressing with one teaspoon of olive oil
- 9. A nectarine
- 10. Trail mix made of one-fourth cup of raisins, two tablespoons of sunflower seeds, and 22 unsalted mini pretzels
- 1. A bagel made of whole wheat with two tablespoons of peanut butter without adding salt
- 2. Two cups of fat-free milk
- 3. One piece of fresh orange
- 4. Spinach salad made of four cups of spinach, one-half cup of mandarin oranges, one sliced pear, two tablespoons of red wine vinaigrette, and one-third cup of slivered almonds,
- 5. One small sourdough roll served with two teaspoons of olive oil
- 6. Three ounces baked cod with one-half cup of steamed green beans and one-half cup of brown rice pilaf
- 7. Twelve low-salt wheat crackers
- 8. A cup of berries garnished with mint
- 9. Four vanilla wafers
- 10. A cup of fat-free yogurt
- 1. A cup oatmeal topped with one teaspoon of cinnamon
- 2. One fresh banana
- 3. A slice of whole-wheat toast with one teaspoon of trans-free margarine
- 4. Two cups of fat-free milk
- 5. Kebab made of three ounces beef garnished with one cup of peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and onions
- 6. Tuna salad made of one-half cup of tuna, two teaspoons of light mayonnaise, fifteen pieces of grapes, and one-fourth cup of diced celery served with two and a half cups of romaine lettuce and eight Melba toast crackers
- 7. A cup of wild rice
- 8. A cup of pineapple
- 9. One-third cup of pecans
- 10. Spritzer served with four ounces cran-raspberry juice and four to eight ounces sparkling water
- 11. A fresh peach
- 12. A cup of light yogurt
In conclusion, the DASH Diet plan primarily focuses on its effects to lower blood pressure levels. However, this science-supported diet plan can also lead to losing weight in some people. The reason is that it includes whole grain, fresh veggies, and fruits. In addition, this diet plan works by maintaining blood cholesterol levels that may lead to a heart attack.