At a time when a majority of mainstream diets are being called “time-consuming, inefficient and just plain ineffective,” one diet plan still holds up as the most effective solution, the DASH Diet.
We’re running down the details on this plan to get you on track this summer.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that’s designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).
The DASH diet has been shown to be associated with reduced risk of depression, in addition to lowering blood pressure, and it is ranked the best diet for 8th year in a row by US News & World Report.
The DASH eating plan is easy to follow using common foods available in your grocery store. The plan includes daily servings from different food groups. To figure out your calorie needs, you need to consider your age and physical activity level. If you want to maintain your current weight, you should eat only as many calories as you burn by being physically active. This is called energy balance.
The DASH diet helps to lower blood pressure by providing more key nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are associated with lower blood pressure. These key nutrients are boosted by including more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy in your daily diet. Some people see additional benefits by lowering sodium or salt in their diet. Our book includes additional lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure, such as weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation, and moderation of alcohol intake.
Both versions of the DASH diet (diet for health and vegetarian diet) include lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. The DASH diet also includes some fish, poultry and legumes, and encourages a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week.
You can eat red meat, sweets and fats in small amounts. The DASH diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat.
Remember, healthy eating isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. What’s most important is that, on average, you eat healthier foods with plenty of variety — both to keep your diet nutritious and to avoid boredom or extremes. And with the DASH diet, you can have both.