DASH Diet: What is it, and who should be on it?

Reviewed: January 07, 2015
By eHealthIQ
DASH Diet: What is it, and who should be on it?

In a world where new diets appear every day, it can be difficult to separate trends from truly healthy eating plans. The DASH Diet—Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—is a safe option that is designed primarily to lower cardiovascular risk. Numerous reliable health authorities have endorsed DASH, including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Heart Association, and the Mayo Clinic. With so many health care professionals in agreement, the DASH Diet is a safe way to establish healthy eating patterns while losing weight and protecting your heart.

What is it?

Although the DASH Diet is designed primarily to lower blood pressure, it is associated with many additional health benefits: lower cholesterol, lower risk of cancer, lower risk of developing diabetes, and slower progression of kidney disease. Because the health benefits are so broad, the DASH Diet is safe for most all dieters—though, as with any diet plan, you should consult with your physician before beginning the plan.

DASH creates all of these benefits through its plant-based program that incorporates lean meats, whole grains, and minimal servings of fat and dairy. The eating program is extremely flexible, as it is based on servings per day; it is even possible to create a vegetarian eating program on the DASH Diet.

The dining plan, which is available on the DASH Diet website, lists categories of foods: grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat or non-dairy, lean meats, nuts and legumes, and fats. Based on how many calories are in your daily diet, DASH prescribes the daily number of servings in each of these food categories. For example, on a 2,000-calorie daily diet, you should consume 4-5 servings per day of fruit, 4-5 servings of vegetables, 7-8 servings of grain products, and 0-2 servings of lean meats.

What are typical DASH Diet foods?

The DASH Diet website offers helpful sample menus to help you plan your daily diet. What is appealing about DASH for many dieters is the range of tasty, healthy foods permitted each day. For example, in any given day, you might have string cheese, fresh squeezed orange juice, almonds, or even bread dipped in olive oil. Typical dinner entrees include roasted chicken or grilled fish.

Whether you are trying to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, or simply eat healthier, the DASH Diet allows you to create flexible dining options so that you will not become sick of the same few foods. Because it is about heart-healthy eating in moderation, you can rest easy knowing that you are protecting your heart and your total health.

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