The Complete Beginner's Guide to the DASH Diet

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DASH Diet and High Blood Pressure
With weight loss, most cardiovascular heart risk factors improve, your risk for cancers, diabetes , dementia , and many other chronic diseases decreases. These key nutrients are boosted by including more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or nonfat dairy in your daily diet. If you are struggling to lose weight despite eating a DASH diet and being physically active, there might be problems with your metabolism or other underlying factors. The DASH dietary pattern may be effective at lowering blood pressure but is not only recommended for people suffering from hypertension; it is recommended for everyone, as it is a model of modern healthy diet, that is balanced, flexible, easy to follow as you go on and requires no special foods. These spice blends can be sprinkled on proteins while grilling, turned into a salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar, or sprinkled on a sandwich to reduce the mayonnaise or cheese we typically add for flavor. DASH's lack of followers seems to come down to misconceptions that people have about it. You can ask your doctor for advise.

Starting the DASH Diet

The DASH Diet Is Great For Weight Loss, So Why Is No One Following It?

The DASH diet isn't only about a reduction in salt intake, but also a therapeutic eating approach in the management of blood cholesterol, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and weight. The research and science-backed plan is less likely about eating in small portions but more of a balanced eating plan for a healthy lifestyle.

The diet was developed having the purpose of establishing a food-based strategy that lowers blood pressure and eventually allow a reduction on full reliance of chemical substances. It has since helped many people not only be able to control blood pressure, but reduce their risks of other related illnesses. Instead of using special diet foods, DASH sets forth daily nutritional goals targeting specific amount of calories a day. It also promotes the involvement of the right amount of nutrients in food that can lower blood pressure.

The DASH diet has been evolving over the years as new nutrition research emerges and expected to only keep improving with new information. It comes as no surprise that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the DASH diet eating plan to everyone, — from children to senior adults. This clearly suggests that it's never too late to get started with the DASH diet.

Compared to many other diet plans, the DASH diet has been clinically proven to effectively deliver desirable results in helping people who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high insulin sensitivity. New research has shown that it can even help keep children grow up easily maintaining normal blood pressure levels.

While it was not originally developed for weight loss, the DASH diet is also very effective as a healthy weight-loss plan. It can be ideal for people who are into losing weight without the typically-excessive and under-pressure dieting. Also, since it does not require purchasing any sort of branded supplements which can be expensive , it is perfect for people on a budget.

It is clear that the DASH diet's primary goal is to improve overall nutrition quality. Nevertheless, since the DASH diet eating plan was originally created to help individuals with high blood pressure, it is reasonable to say that the main objective is to help people prevent and control high blood pressure. Due to the fact that it follows specific standards and new information, it aims to provide a balanced diet following measurable portion sizes that adhere to reputable health organizations and studies.

Nonetheless, helping people improve their health remains to be the main goal. The DASH diet works based on servings from different food groups.

It calls for a specific amount of calorie intake, and the amount depends on the person's age and the number of calories that they burn in a day. The diet provides a graph with different food group serving numbers, and a person should consume the number of servings indicated under their calorie segment.

In addition to following the DASH diet's proportioned meals, people are also encouraged to be physically active, avoid alcohol and get plenty enough of sleep. Due to the fact that the DASH diet is cemented around the idea of lowering blood pressure, it focuses on nutrients that help do so, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients can be found in every-day foods such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and other food groups.

Based on the DASH diet, people should consume the highest number of servings from the grains food group and very little fat. Overall, the DASH diet eating plan is well-rounded in its nutrition guidelines and an excellent diet program for everyone. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common diseases.

It affects 1 in 3 Americans over the age of 18 years old. Hypertension, especially when ignored, can lead to more severe disorders such as cerebrovascular diseases, cardiac problems, and kidney failure. The treatment of hypertension and maintenance of optimal blood pressure level is of great importance. Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood in the circulatory system, which is often taken for medical diagnosis and monitoring.

The reading consists of two levels or numbers, namely the systolic blood pressure upper or first number and diastolic blood pressure lower or second number. Normal blood pressure is 90 to mmHg for systolic and 60 to 80 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. Hypertension is further divided into two stages:. People who have systolic blood pressure between and mmHg and diastolic blood pressure between 60 and 80 mmHg have high normal values of blood pressure, and this range is defined as a stage of prehypertension.

The higher the level, the greater the health risk. For example, kidney disease, primary aldosteronism and pheochromocytoma. This kind of hypertension is called secondary , and treating the underlying condition will very likely result to a reduction in blood pressure levels or return to normal values. However, in most patients the cause of hypertension is unknown. This is called primary or essential hypertension , and it commonly requires a life-long treatment.

A high blood pressure makes it hard for the heart to pump enough supply of blood that contains the nutrients and oxygen needed by the different parts of the body. This can result to less elastic and scarred arteries. When stiffening of the arteries develop, it causes thickening of the cardiac muscle making it work even harder and weak. Damaged arteries affect the amount of blood supply that reaches body organs for proper functioning and a reduction in blood supply will harm any affected organs.

This is why kidney failure is a very possible complication of high blood pressure. Hypertension treatment is complex, and it includes lifestyle changes and medical treatment. However, medical treatment may not always be needed.

You can ask your doctor for advise. It is important to keep in mind that medical consultation remains a priority. The need for medical intervention can be determined by a doctor, where the combination and doses of antihypertensives are individual to each patient, as they depend on patient's blood pressure levels, age, other diseases that the patient may be suffering from and patient's general state.

On another note, every patient with hypertension is advised to make changes to their lifestyle. These include weight reduction, smoking cessation, engagement in aerobical physical activities, moderation of alcohol consumption and changes in diet.

The DASH diet was first developed in the s, based on multiple research, in order to produce a food-based strategy to lower blood pressure. The DASH diet has been found to lower the blood pressure levels of individuals whether they be hypertensive or healthy people. Interestingly, this can also be achieved even without changes in salt intake or weight. However, it has shown not to lower the blood pressure level of healthy individuals to an extent that it goes below normal levels.

The efficacy of the diet was proven in many studies: The DASH diet is a meal plan containing high amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fat-free or low-fat diary products, fish, beans and nuts should also be included. Foods rich in nutrients such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, along with antioxidants, contributes greatly to the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system. The inclusion of restrictions in sodium intake to the diet has shown the greatest reductions in blood pressure levels among the studies.

Hypertensive individuals with the lowest intakes of salt appeared to display the most impressive results. The DASH diet was not designed as a weight loss plan, but following the diet does not lead to unhealthy weight gain. However, since reduction of weight is also needed in some patients with hypertension, weight loss can be easily achieved by following the meal plan where you can reduce daily intake into calories; while increasing physical activity.

Following the diet, together with other healthy lifestyle changes adds up to the effects of antihypertensives.

It may also allow the possibility to have lower doses of these drugs needed in controlling blood pressure in patients with hypertension. It is even more important in patients with prehypertension, for with these patients, lifestyle changes can prevent or slow down the actual development of hypertension.

It can help prolong the time where you have no need for intake of medical substances or need for undergoing regular therapy.

The DASH dietary pattern may be effective at lowering blood pressure but is not only recommended for people suffering from hypertension; it is recommended for everyone, as it is a model of modern healthy diet, that is balanced, flexible, easy to follow as you go on and requires no special foods. The DASH diet was developed in an effort to help reduce blood pressure in place of drugs and other medication.

However, it does not actually encourage replacing the need for drug intake considering that the situation of each individual can be different. Despite the DASH diet having been proven to be very effective, you need to have a consultation with your doctor before making changes with your medicinal regimen. The meal plan advocates foods that are low to moderate in fat and high in fiber which are key drivers in managing high blood pressure. Having a healthy blood pressure is important to maintaining the overall health, not only of your heart, but of your body.

You may have already known that high blood pressure increases the chances of stroke or heart attack, do you? Whilst it is a good idea to always include a daily bout of exercise simple brisk walking will do , the DASH diet is simply about making manageable dietary changes that are flexible and built on proven nutritional advice.

This is because the more you weigh, the higher your blood pressure is likely to be 12 , 13 , Additionally, losing weight has been shown to lower blood pressure 15 , Some studies have shown that people can lose weight on the DASH diet 17 , 18 , However, those who have lost weight on the DASH diet have been in a controlled calorie deficit, meaning they were told to eat fewer calories than they were using.

Given that the DASH diet cuts out lots of high-fat, sugary foods, people may find that they automatically reduce their calorie intake and lose weight.

Other people may have to consciously restrict their intake Either way, if you want to lose weight on the DASH diet, you'll still need to reduce your calorie intake so you're taking in fewer calories than you are using up. It's well documented that the DASH diet can help lower blood pressure. However, the diet has additional benefits. Many of these protective effects have been attributed to the high fruit and vegetable content of the DASH diet. This is because, in general, eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of disease 27 , 28 , 29 , One of the key findings of DASH diet studies was that the greatest reductions in blood pressure were seen in those with the lowest intakes of salt.

While this is interesting, the benefits of salt restriction on health and lifespan are not clear cut. For people with high blood pressure, reducing salt intake has been shown to significantly affect blood pressure 6. However, in people who have normal blood pressure, the effects of reducing salt intake are much smaller This could partly be explained by the theory that some people are "salt sensitive," meaning some people are more sensitive to salt and that it has a greater effect on their blood pressure Eating too little salt has been linked to health problems, such as an increased risk of heart disease, insulin resistance and fluid retention.

However, it's currently unclear whether there are any benefits to reducing salt intake this low, even in people with high blood pressure In fact, a recent review found that the current evidence doesn't show a link between salt intake and the risk of death from heart disease. This is despite the fact that lowering salt intake caused a modest reduction in blood pressure Overall, most people eat too much salt.

This means lowering your salt intake from very high amounts of 9—12 grams a day to 5—6 grams a day may be beneficial 6. This target can be achieved easily by reducing the amount of highly processed food in your diet and eating mostly whole foods.

Instead, it recommends a dietary pattern that focuses on the number of servings of different food groups. The number of servings you can eat depends on how many calories you need to eat to achieve your goals. Below is an explanation of the number of servings you should be aiming for, based on a 2,calorie diet. Examples of whole grains include whole wheat or whole grain breads, whole grain breakfast cereals, brown rice, bulgur, quinoa and oatmeal. All vegetables are allowed on the DASH diet.

This includes broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and cabbage, to name a few. If you're following the DASH approach, you'll be eating a lot of fruit. Examples of fruits you can eat include apples, pears, peaches, berries and tropical fruits like pineapple and mango.

Dairy products on the DASH diet should be low in fat. Examples include skim milk and low-fat cheese and yogurt. Choose lean cuts of meat and try to eat a serving of red meat only occasionally, no more than once or twice a week.

These include foods like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, kidney beans, lentils and split peas. The DASH diet recommends that you choose vegetable oils over other oils.

These include margarines and oils like canola, corn, olive or safflower. They also recommend you choose low-fat mayonnaise and light salad dressing. Added sugars are kept to a minimum on the DASH diet, so limit your intake of candy, soda and table sugar. The DASH diet also requires you to limit unrefined sugars and alternative sugar sources, like agave nectar. Outside of measured fresh fruit juice portions, this diet recommends you stick to low-calorie drinks like water , tea and coffee.

If you're thinking about trying the DASH approach for your blood pressure, then you might have a few questions about other aspects of your lifestyle.

The DASH diet doesn't prescribe specific guidelines for coffee. However, some people worry that caffeinated beverages like coffee may increase their blood pressure. It's well known that caffeine can cause a short-term increase in blood pressure Furthermore, this rise is greater in people with high blood pressure 34 , However, a recent review found that despite coffee causing a short-term 1—3 hours increase in blood pressure, it didn't increase the long-term risk of high blood pressure or heart disease For most healthy people with normal blood pressure, 3—4 regular coffees per day are considered safe However, the slight rise in blood pressure 5—10 mm Hg caused by caffeine means that people who already have high blood pressure probably need to be more careful with their coffee consumption.

The DASH diet has been shown to be even more effective at lowering blood pressure when people are also active It's recommended to do 30 minutes of moderate activity most days, and it's important to choose something you enjoy, as you will be more likely to keep it up. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure

The Improved DASH Diet