As per research, more than a billion people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure, and the number is growing.
Indeed, the fact that the number of people with high blood pressure has more than doubled in the last 40 years is a severe public health problem, as high blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of illnesses such as heart disease, renal failure, and stroke.
As diet is known to play a significant part in the development of high blood pressure, scientists and policymakers have developed specialized dietary recommendations to aid in its reduction.
This article looks at the DASH diet, which was created to help patients with high blood pressure lower their risk of heart disease.
These lifestyle disorders can be treated holistically, more frequently, and with remarkable results. Essentially, a person suffering from these conditions should be mindful of what they should and should not consume.
Hence, to get started on your fitness journey, use Healthify Pro to track your nutrition and view a detailed breakdown of each food item into proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fibre.
Then, get a comprehensive health checkup that includes a metabolic panel that assesses many health indicators, a full report, and the best in-person counseling from experienced coaches with a personalized diet and activity plan.
These corrective dietary techniques not only serve to manage or reverse metabolic imbalances, but they also aid to accelerate weight loss.
Furthermore, recording your meals into a reliable nutrition tracker, such as the Healthify Pro food tracker, will help you analyze your protein, carbohydrate, fat, and fibre intake. You also receive access to a number of simple and healthy home recipes.
Table of Contents
What is the Dash Diet?
As the name suggests, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet was developed in an attempt to lower dangerous levels of blood pressure in the population without the administration of clinical medication.
Furthermore, those who were susceptible to hypertension found it effective in fighting the disease. However, the DASH diet not only helps people with hypertension, but also serves to control many other illnesses such as stroke, heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, diabetes, and kidney stones.
The DASH diet does not have to be followed exclusively by those with hypertension. Anyone looking to keep their weight in check and maintain good health can adopt this routine.
This diet primarily consists of the goodness of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, and low-fat/skimmed dairy products.
Who is the Dash Diet Recommended For?
The DASH diet can be followed by anyone for significant health gains. Studies carried out to probe the advantages of the DASH diet have found that it can go a long way in preventing high blood pressure in children and adults.
Moreover, its health benefits range from reducing cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels, to improving bone health, and lowering the risk of gout, inflammation, and even cancer.
So, while the dash diet can be followed by your entire family, individuals at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease profit most from following this dietary routine.
Do’s and Don’ts in a Dash Diet Foods
The DASH diet, like any other diet plan, recommends items you include and avoid certain foods. In the below section, we will discuss those foods to add and avoid in detail the below:-
Foods to add to your Dash Diet
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a well-balanced eating plan that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
It is designed to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. Here are some examples of what you can eat on the DASH diet:
Fruits: Fresh, frozen fruits such as apples, bananas, berries, oranges, and melons.
Vegetables: Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, as well as a wide variety of colorful vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes.
Whole grains: Whole grain bread, pasta, and cereals made from oats, brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grains.
Lean proteins: Chicken, turkey, fish, beans, and tofu.
Nuts, seeds, and legumes: Almonds, peanuts, and other nuts, as well as seeds like sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and legumes like lentils and chickpeas.
Dairy: Low-fat or skimmed milk, yogurt, and cheese.
DASH decreases blood pressure, especially if it is high, and may aid with weight loss. Furthermore, eating a healthier diet, such as DASH, can lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers.
Ideal Serving Size
1. You can eat 6-8 servings of grains a day. So, you may choose from bread, pasta, cereal, or rice. Try eating whole grains instead of refined grains as they have more nutrient-rich contents and fibre value.
2. An intake of four to five servings of vegetables like broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and leafy greens is ideal when you are following the dash diet.
3. You can eat up to 2-3 servings of fruits as part of this diet too.
4. When it comes to dairy products, ensure it is low fat or skimmed milk/yoghurt/cheese or other dairy products, but stick to just 2-3 servings a day.
5. You may have 2-3 servings of lean meat, poultry, or fish, the day, as long as the portion size is met.
6. Nuts, seeds, and legumes can be consumed four to five times per week.
7. Limit the consumption of fats and oils to 2 small servings per day. Choose monounsaturated fats over unhealthy trans fats.
Foods to Avoid in Dash Diet
In general, the DASH diet recommends avoiding or limiting the following types of foods:
Processed and high-fat meats: These foods tend to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can contribute to high blood pressure and other health problems. Instead, choose lean proteins like chicken, turkey, and fish, or plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu.
Full-fat dairy products: These products are high in saturated fat and can contribute to high blood pressure. Choose low-fat or skimmed dairy products instead.
Added sugars: These can be found in sweetened drinks, desserts, and other sweet treats. They can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of developing high blood pressure and other health problems.
Refined grains: These include white bread, pasta, and rice, which have been stripped of their nutrients during the refining process. Choose whole grains like whole wheat bread, red or brown rice, and quinoa instead.
Highly processed snacks: These can be high in sodium and added sugars, and may not provide much in the way of nutrients. Choose whole, unprocessed snacks like fruits, vegetables, and nuts instead.
Some unhealthy food items to avoid while on this diet are –
- Salted nuts
- Sugary beverages
- Meat dishes
- Prepackaged rice and pasta dishes
- Salad dressings
- Cold cuts/cured meat
- Sauces and gravies
Avoid smoking and drinking: As for alcohol and cigarettes, both increase blood pressure. While smoking is not at all advisable when on a dash diet, you may still enjoy a maximum of one alcoholic beverage a day.
Drinking in a small, controlled portion should not negatively impact the benefits you take away from following this eating plan.
You may find it challenging to halt smoking entirely if you happen to be a regular smoker. Avail external help, such as medications or attending support groups, to help you quit.
Does salt need to be left out of the diet?
Yes, it can be tough at first for anyone who is accustomed to regularly consuming salt to eliminate it entirely from their diet. This is something we understand. However, you don’t have to give up salt entirely; hence, why not try a substitute?
Instead of adding salt to your diet, You can opt for options like using spices and herbs, lemon juice, vinegar, and even salt alternatives like Kosher salt, pink salt, sea salt, and low-sodium salts.
Also, a potassium-based salt substitute will work effectively as a cooking ingredient. Individuals may benefit from consuming foods naturally rich in potassium, such as beans, yogurt, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
Dash Diet Plan
Now, the DASH diet plan doesn’t specifically list what to eat in the diet. Instead, it specifies the serving sizes that you should adhere to. The serving sizes for each food group have already been discussed above. Here, we provide you with a sample one-day eating plan fashioned after the dash diet.
Pre- Breakfast:– 1 glass of lukewarm water with 1 tsp of Jeera seeds + half a lemon squeeze
Breakfast:- 2 medium sized besan cheelas with 1 cup of homemade curds + 1 tsp of green chutney
Mid-morning snack:– 1 yield Coconut water OR 1 glass of buttermilk with 1 tsp flaxseed powder + 2 walnuts + 2 almonds
Lunch:– 1 katori red rice or par boiled rice with 1 katori rajma curry (made in less oil) + 1 bowl of cucumber, tomato salad + 1/2 bowl of homemade curds
Mid-evening snack:- 1 small bowl of sprouts salad + 1 cup of herbal tea
Dinner:– 2 whole wheat chapathis + 1 medium sized katori of mixed vegetable and Paneer sabzi + 1 bowl of freshly cut salad
Bed time snack:- 1 cup of chamomile tea
Is Dash Diet Good for Weight Loss?
Many health and fitness enthusiasts are curious – is the dash diet suitable for weight loss? The answer is yes.
While primarily designed for individuals vulnerable to high blood pressure, the dash diet is a healthy eating plan that promotes the consumption of whole foods and the reduction of sugar and unhealthy fats in your intake. Naturally, it helps reduce and/or maintain weight.
Unlike other fad diets, it doesn’t stipulate food group exclusions or extreme calorie cutbacks. As a result, it is easier to follow and stick to.
The dash diet promotes manageable dietary changes that are quite flexible, and the diet plan is founded on credible nutritional advice.
While you could also choose to get on a more targeted weight loss diet plan, the dash diet plan will help you lose that unwanted chubbiness while managing heart health and any adverse symptoms of blood pressure!
Health Benefits of the Dash Diet
In this section, we learn about the health benefits of the dash diet. The dash diet is famous for providing people with an array of proven merits. So what are these? Let’s find out.
- As already discussed, the dash diet has been designed and functions as a natural counter to hypertension.
- Improves your bone strength: It can help prevent osteoporosis and maintain your overall bone strength. This trait is a result of the increased calcium intake recommended as part of the diet.
- Reduces the levels of uric acid: This diet helps you reduce uric acid levels in your body, especially if you happen to suffer from hyperuricemia. You are at a lowered risk of diseases, such as gout, if you follow this eating plan.
- Prevents metabolic disorders: You are required to balance your intake as part of your DASH diet and reduce fat consumption.
- Lowered risk of cancer: The high intake of fruits and vegetables in the dash diet has also been related to reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, including colon, breast, and prostate cancer.
- Lowering blood pressure: The DASH diet has been shown to be effective at lowering blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Reducing the risk of heart disease: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, so the DASH diet may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
- Improving cholesterol levels: The DASH diet may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which can help improve overall cholesterol levels.
- Promoting weight loss: The DASH diet is a calorie-controlled eating plan that can help with weight loss if followed consistently. According to certain research, the DASH diet with exercise can help people lose weight.
The dash diet was originally formulated to bring down blood pressure levels in the human population. It was found to be just as effective as the first line of medication administered to people at high risk of hypertension.
As it promotes the consumption of whole foods and encourages you to cut down on high-sugar, high-starch, and high-fat, opting for this diet is a healthy way to manage blood pressure while maintaining health and well-being.
- Worldwide trends in blood pressure from 1975 to 2015: a pooled analysis of 1479 population-based measurement studies with 19·1 million participants. (2016) – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27863813/
- Effects of the DASH diet alone and in combination with exercise and weight loss on blood pressure and cardiovascular biomarkers in men and women with high blood pressure: the ENCORE study. (2010) – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20101007/
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the DASH diet?
The DASH diet is a dietary pattern that is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) and other health organizations as a way to prevent or manage hypertension (high blood pressure) and improve overall health.
2. What does the DASH diet recommend?
The DASH diet recommends a balanced, nutrient-rich eating plan that emphasizes whole foods and focuses on reducing the intake of sodium and increasing the intake of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It also recommends limiting the intake of saturated fat, cholesterol, and added sugars.
3. What types of foods are included in the DASH diet?
The DASH diet includes a variety of whole, unprocessed foods, including:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins (such as chicken, turkey, fish, beans, lentils, and tofu)
- Low-fat or skimmed dairy products
4. What types of foods should be avoided or limited on the DASH diet?
The DASH diet recommends avoiding or limiting the following types of foods:
Processed and high-fat meats
- Full-fat dairy products
- Added sugars
- Refined grains
- Highly processed snacks
5. Is the DASH diet low in sodium?
The DASH diet recommends reducing the intake of sodium, but it is not a low-sodium diet. Instead, it focuses on helping people achieve a healthy balance of sodium and other minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
6. Can the DASH diet help lower blood pressure?
Yes, the DASH diet has been shown to be effective at lowering blood pressure in many people. In fact, it is often recommended by healthcare professionals as a first-line treatment for hypertension.
7. Is the DASH diet suitable for everyone?
Depends on your health status. If you have any medical conditions or are taking medications, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting the DASH diet or any other new eating plan.
8. Can the DASH diet help with weight loss?
Yes, it can help you in your weight loss journey. While the DASH diet is not specifically designed for weight loss, it can help some people lose weight as a result of its emphasis on whole, nutrient-rich foods and its recommendations to limit added sugars and highly processed snacks.
9. Can the DASH diet be followed while eating out?
Yes, the DASH diet can be followed while eating out. Look for restaurants that offer a variety of whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. You can also ask for modifications to dishes, such as requesting that your meal be prepared without added salt or that monosodium glutamate (MSG) be avoided during preparation or ask for an extra serve of vegetables or salad..
10. Can the DASH diet be followed on a vegetarian or vegan diet?
Yes, the DASH diet can be followed on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils, and tofu, can be included as part of a vegetarian or vegan DASH diet.