The DASH diet plan is a balanced eating plan that helps create a healthy eating lifestyle. The healthy DASH diet plan was conceptualized to lower blood pressure without medication. Research on the first DASH diet revealed that it had a significant impact on lowering blood pressure. Know about the DASH diet plan and stay healthy.
There have been a number of studies, which highlighted that the DASH diet reduced the risk of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, kidney stones and diabetes. The DASH diet plan also helps in weight loss. The fact that DASH Diet incorporates real foods is what makes it a preferred diet.
What is the DASH Diet Plan?
DASH is short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The diet is often recommended to people who want a cure for hypertension (high blood pressure) while also reducing the risk of heart disease.
The DASH diet plan incorporates fruits, whole grains, vegetables and lean meats. The diet provides liberal amounts of nutrients that protect people against high blood pressure. Therefore, the diet is high in fruits and vegetables, while also making room for fish, chicken and beans. The diet is low on salt, red meat, and added fat and sugar. One of the main reasons why people with high blood pressure can benefit from this diet is because it reduces the amount of salt they eat.
The regular DASH diet recommended the consumption of 2,300 mg of sodium per day (or 1 teaspoon), which is in conjunction with national guidelines.
The DASH diet plan was first promoted by the US-based National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [part of the National Institutes of Health ("NIH"), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services] to control and prevent hypertension.
Weight Loss Benefits of DASH Diet Plan
The diet has shown to lower blood pressure, irrespective of whether people lose weight or not. If you already have high blood pressure, you may have already been told to lose some weight.
The more you weigh, the higher your blood pressure. This apart, when you lose weight, your blood pressure goes down as well.
There are some studies that suggest people can lose weight by following the DASH diet plan.
However, people who have shed pounds while on the DASH diet have kept a strict control on the number of calories they consume. Given that this diet helps cut down on high-fat, sugary foods, people will find that they automatically consume fewer calories, thereby leading to weight loss. Then there are other people who consciously restrict their calorie intake.
If you want to shed pounds on the DASH diet, you will need to keep a check on your calorie intake. The DASH diet plan can surely help in weight loss, if you follow the basic rules needed for losing weight. If the calories you consume are less than you burn during a day, it will eventually help in weight loss.
Owing to the emphasis on real foods, vegetables and fruits, balanced with the right amount of protein, the diet will help with weight loss. It is satisfying and filling. Owing to the health benefits involved, the DASH diet can be followed through all the stages of your life. The plan can feed your entire family, with larger portion sizes for those relatives who do not have to worry about their weight.
The Vegetarian DASH Diet Plan
If you want to take the diet to the next level, you can now. The DASH Diet makes provisions for a vegetarian plan with 14 days of vegetarian meal plans and a slew of recipes. However, it is also flexible enough for people who cannot do without meat/fish/poultry. There are 14 –day meal plans for omnivores that come with another set of recipes. The diet also supports those people who want to opt for an all-natural, additive-free approach to the diet. Therefore, there's something for everyone with the DASH diet plan.
Here is a sample menu for those looking to hop onto the DASH diet plan wagon:
Vegetarian Breakfast DASH Diet Plan
- 1 whole wheat bagel (you can buy it from the store) with two tablespoons peanut butter (no salt added)
- 1 medium orange
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- Decaffeinated coffee
Vegetarian Lunch Dash Diet Plan
- A spinach salad made with:
- 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves
- 1 sliced pear
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette
- 1 cup fat-free milk
Vegetarian Dinner Dash Diet Plan
- Herb-crusted baked cod, 3 ounces cooked (about 4 ounces raw)
- 1/2 cup brown rice pilaf with vegetables
- 1/2 cup fresh green beans, steamed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup fresh berries with chopped mint
- Herbal iced tea
If you are looking to have a snack, which you can every time, you can opt for:
- One cup fat-free, low-calorie yogurt
- Four vanilla wafers
Calorie Goals of DASH Diet
The DASH diet is centered on a 2,100-calorie diet. According to the DASH diet plan, dieters should aim to eat 27 percent of their total calories from fat, 18 percent from protein and 55 percent from carbohydrates. Saturated fat consumption should not cross the 6 percent mark of total caloric intake, while cholesterol needs to be restricted to 150 milligrams or less. Those on the diet should target to consume at least 30 grams of fiber every day.
Nuts, seeds and legumes are the perfect source for cholesterol-free protein, vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fats. The diet plan recommends 4 to 5 servings of nuts, legumes and seeds each week. Since sodium intake is a concern, you should target consuming unsalted nuts, legumes and seeds.
If you want to consume dairy products, restrict to only low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Daily servings should be limited to just 2 to 3 each day. However, it is essential to get your daily fix of dairy as it is rich in vitamin, mineral and protein content. However, dairy products are known to have an abundance of fat and cholesterol.
The diet plan recommends consuming only lean sources of fish, poultry and meat to ensure protein intake. However, servings should be limited to just two or less each day. While animal products are high in protein, they can be high in cholesterol, fat and sodium. All this contributes to hypertension. Plant foods are also a rich source of protein.
It is always important to understand your body and its requirements before opting for the DASH diet plan. Also, you can substitute some items on the list with those available to you.