DASH Diet Basics

Weight Loss, Weight Loss Plans
on March 15, 2012

The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Typically, it is physician recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. It also may be recommended as a preventative measure for anyone who is pre-hypertensive. It is designed so any age can follow it, making it a healthy nutritional plan for the whole family.

How DASH is different. The DASH diet differs from other diets because it originally did not include weight loss as one of its main objectives. The DASH diet was designed to help reduce the risk of various heart conditions by lowering blood pressure nutritionally. According to the Mayo Clinic, this diet plan may “offer protection against osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.”

Sodium reduction. When you reduce your sodium (salt) intake, your blood pressure lowers. For people with hypertension, this is good news. Dr. Denise Simons-Morton, leader of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Prevention Scientific Research Group and DASH coauthor states, “Following the DASH diet and reducing the intake of dietary sodium are two non-drug approaches that work to control blood pressure.” On the DASH eating plan, sodium intake is reduced significantly.

The eating plan. The NHLBI reports that diets rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products paired with a reduction in cholesterol, red meat, sugar and fats, especially saturated fat, can help to reduce blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension and pre-hypertension. The DASH diet also limits sugary drinks and sweets, while encouraging whole grains, nuts, fish and poultry. The diet promotes eating foods rich in calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium and protein. It’s about increasing the good-for-you foods and reducing your consumption of processed and not-so-good-for-you food items.

DASH daily nutrient goals. For a 2,100-calorie-a-day diet, the DASH plan states your total fat consumption should not exceed 27 percent of those 2,100 calories, with only 6 percent of calories to come from saturated fat. Consume no more than 150 milligrams of cholesterol, but take in 55 percent of your calories from carbohydrates and 18 percent of your daily calories from protein. On a 2,100-calorie DASH diet eating plan, strive to intake 1,250 milligrams calcium, 30 grams fiber, 500 milligrams magnesium and 4,700 milligrams potassium daily. Sodium intake should not exceed 2,300 milligrams; however, to reduce blood pressure, consider only 1,500 milligrams sodium daily.

Before beginning any diet plan, consult your physician.