DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a lifelong approach to healthy eating. It was originally created to lower blood pressure without any medication, as part of a research study sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health.
Purpose of the DASH diet
- The most definitive aim of DASH diet is that if you follow it religiously, you can reduce your blood pressure by a few points in a span of just two weeks.
- Over a period of time, the systolic blood pressure would drop by 8-14 points, which makes a significant difference in the earlier health risks.
Guidelines of the DASH diet
The DASH diet research is based on the concept of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
- With an intent to quench hunger, the meals and snacks are balanced with bulky, filling foods (fruits and vegetables)
- There is also an inclusion of foods that are protein-rich and/or contain heart healthy fats, to keep the person well fed.
- The meal plans aid in avoiding the blood sugar roller coaster, which is one of the main causes of unhealthy cravings.
- The plan is also generous on protein, which helps to maintain more muscle while losing weight. The protein balance in the diet also helps to avoid a slowdown in metabolism.
Characteristics of the DASH diet plan
- Rich in fruits
- Rich in vegetables
- Low in fat or nonfat dairy
- Includes whole grains, nuts and beans
- Includes lean meats, fish and poultry
- High fiber and low to moderate fat
Instead of suggesting specific foods to eat, the DASH diet recommends a dietary pattern that emphasizes the number of servings of different groups of food. Based on a 2000-calorie diet the number of servings that should be aimed for are decided.
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Whole Grains: 6–8 Servings per Day
- 1 slice of whole grain bread
- 1 ounce of dry, whole grain cereal
- 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or cereal
Vegetables: 4–5 Servings per Day
- 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables like spinach or kale
- 1/2 cup of raw or cooked vegetables like broccoli, carrots, squash or tomatoes
- 1/2 cup of vegetable juice
Fruits: 4–5 Servings per Day
- 1 medium fruit or 1/4 cup of dried fruit
- 1/2 cup of fresh, frozen or canned fruit
- 1/2 cup of fruit juice
Dairy Products: 2–3 Servings per Day
- 1 cup of low-fat milk or yogurt
- 1.5 ounces of low-fat cheese
- Lean Chicken, Meat and Fish: 6 or Fewer Servings per Day
Nuts, Seeds and Legumes: 4–5 Servings per Week
- 1/3 cup or 1.5 ounces of nuts
- 2 tablespoons of nut butter
- 2 tablespoons or a half ounce of seeds
- 1/2 cup of cooked legumes
Fats and Oils: 2–3 Servings per Day
- 1 teaspoon of soft margarine
- 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons of salad dressing
Candy and Added Sugars: 5 or Fewer Servings per Week
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of jelly or jam
- 1 cup of lemonade
Sample DASH meal plan for a day
- 1 cup (90 grams) of oatmeal with 1 cup (240 ml) of skim milk
- 1/2 cup (75 grams) of blueberries
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) of fresh orange juice.
- 1 medium apple
- 1 cup (285 grams) of low-fat yogurt.
- Tuna and mayonnaise sandwich made with 2 slices of whole grain bread
- 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
- 1.5 cups (113 grams) of green salad
- 3 ounces (80 grams) of canned tuna
- 1 cup (248 grams) of vegetable soup.
- 1 medium banana.
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- Chicken breast 3 ounces cooked in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil with 1/2 cup (75 grams) of broccoli
- Carrots 1/2 cup (75 grams) served with 1 cup (190 grams) of brown rice.
- Lowers blood pressure without any medication.
- Reduces the risk of many diseases like cancer, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, kidney stones, and diabetes.
- Effective way to lose weight and become healthier.
- Targets belly fat, manages metabolic syndrome and reduces the risk of developing diabetes.