What is a DASH Diet Plan?
Wondering what is a DASH diet plan? Well, DASH implies Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is one of the most highly regarded diets for excellent heart health and effective weight loss. Unlike the fad diets which require extreme calorie or food-group restrictions without scientific evidence to supports their efficacy, DASH is a balanced and flexible eating plan, which helps to create a heart-healthy eating style for life. It involves making manageable dietary alterations, which are flexible and based on proven nutritional advice. The DASH eating plan requires no special foods and instead offers daily and weekly nutritional goals.
The DASH diet was mainly developed to help people decrease their blood pressure. DASH diet focuses on eating whole foods, like fruit and veggies, fat-free or low-fat dairy, lean meats, like poultry and fish, and whole grains. DASH diet requires limiting, or preferably eliminating, the intake of processed foods, like packaged foods and sugary drinks. The intake of red meat also needs to be limited in DASH diet, since its excess consumption is linked to heart failure and poorer heart health. The DASH diet particularly meets the low-sodium, or salt requirements, which can give people an edge over hypertension. This implies that DASH diet is great for people with a personal or family history of heart ailments and type 2 diabetes.
What are the Different Types of DASH Diet?
The DASH diet works by limiting salt and also restricts the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol as both of these contribute to heart disease. The intake of proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibre rich foods is increased in DASH diet, as these can to help lower blood pressure. People who wish to reduce their blood pressure level can couple DASH diet with other healthy lifestyle practices like exercising, losing weight, and reducing alcohol consumption for effectively managing hypertension. Quitting smoking is also important for lowering blood pressure and maintaining good heart health. Depending on their health needs, a person can choose from 2 forms of the DASH diet, namely the standard DASH diet, and the lower-sodium DASH diet. The former type limits sodium consumption to 2300 mg per day, while the latter form calls for limiting sodium consumption to 1500 mg per day. Depending on a person’s weight loss or weight maintenance needs, they can choose a DASH diet plan which provides 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2600, or 3100 calories per day.
What Does a Sample DASH Diet Menu Look Like?
The DASH diet recommends eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, but requires one to consume only a moderate amount of whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats, like fish and nuts, respectively. This differentiates the DASH Diet from other well-known diet plans like the Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet. A typical meal on the DASH diet can include 3 ounces of turkey meatloaf, cooked spinach, 1 peach, 1 small whole-wheat roll, and 1 small baked potato topped with a chopped scallion, and 1 tbsp each of low-fat cheese and fat-free sour cream.
What are the Pros/Benefits of the DASH Diet Plan?
People, who wish to reduce their blood pressure or simply want to adopt a healthy diet, can take up the DASH diet. Since DASH diet emphasizes on eating whole foods, which are naturally low in added sugars and unhealthy fats, and also moderate portions, this diet can lead to weight loss too. Some of the many advantages of following the DASH diet are:
Lowering blood pressure and improving good cholesterol levels: Studies have shown that ones who stick to DASH diet for a long time can reduce their blood pressure and, also lower their LDL or bad cholesterol level by eating low-fat rather than high-fat dairy.
Reducing the risk of certain diseases: A stronger heart can lead to improvements in other aspects of the health, like eye health, kidney function, and blood sugar management. The risk of stroke can also be reduced by following the DASH diet.
Better Management of Type 2 Diabetes: When coupled with an exercise regime and weight-loss plan, the DASH diet can lead to decrease in insulin resistance and thus help in managing type 2 diabetes more effectively.
Improved Nutrition: Since processed and packaged foods often contain added salt and added sugar, the DASH diet emphasizes on eating healthy and nutritious whole and fresh foods thus improving your nutrition and health.
Long-Term Potential: It is easier to stick to the DASH diet in the long run, as it offers variety of easy-to-follow lifelong dietary choices.
What are the Possible Cons/Side Effects of DASH Diet Plan?
The fact that DASH diet does not outline any specific method of weight loss, bothers some people. The DASH diet is basically not designed for weight loss, but it does offer different number of servings for the food groups for separate calorie levels. So, one can follow a more targeted weight-loss diet with DASH diet plan. Some other people find it difficult adjusting to eating the high amount of fiber intake recommended DASH diet plan. It is always better to gradually add high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the diet, and drink lots of water while doing so, to avoid bloating and physical discomfort.
Conclusion: The Effects of DASH Diet on Your Overall Health
DASH diet has proven helpful in lowering blood pressure at least in the short term, but more research needs to be conducted to determine whether the DASH diet can result in decreased rates of heart disease for people who follow this diet over the long term. Thus, the DASH diet is perfect for maintaining optimal blood pressure levels, and for losing extra pounds.
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