The DASH Diet: Everything You Need to Know Before You Start

DASH diet is the best option if you want to stick to an eating strategy that is advised by specialists and improves your heart health. (Image via Unsplash/ Brooke Lark)
DASH diet is the best option if you want to stick to an eating strategy that is advised by specialists and improves your heart health. (Image via Unsplash/ Brooke Lark)

DASH in DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

We are continually inundated with diets that emphasize what we should or shouldn't consume, from the keto to the paleo. However, the DASH diet is the best option if you want to stick to an eating strategy that is advised by a specialist and improves both your heart health and healthy, enduring habits.

For years, experts have endorsed the DASH diet since it emphasizes the items you should consume in any significant nutrient group. It all comes down to preparing scrumptious meals that fuel your body and create long-lasting healthy habits.

What is Dash Diet?

The DASH diet was established in the 1990s, although weight loss was not a primary consideration when it was developed. The National Institutes of Health-funded research that served as the foundation for DASH sought to identify lifestyle factors that had the greatest impact on blood pressure reduction.

Compared to fad diets that encourage you to eliminate food groups or alter your lifestyle, DASH may not seem as innovative or alluring.

Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, legumes, and nuts are simply the main focus. This is not a salt-free diet, despite the fact that lowering high blood pressure is the main goal.

For our bodies to work properly, salt is required. However, excessive amounts might cause water retention, which elevates blood pressure. DASH urges consumers to keep their daily sodium consumption to no more than 2,300 mg.

What can you eat in Dash Diets?

You are advised to consume the most fruit and vegetable servings while following the DASH diet.

Each day, five portions of fruit and five servings of vegetables should be consumed. Beyond that, this diet completely endorses carbohydrates, and seven portions of whole grains are advised daily.

Lean meats should be eaten twice a day, and low-fat dairy products should also be consumed in moderation. Only two to three times a week is advised for nuts and seeds.

The DASH diet includes the following types of foods:

1) Foods that are low in salt

Eating more of your meals at home, where you have more control over the ingredients, is the easiest method to reduce your salt intake. This calls for preparing more meals from scratch and, whenever possible, using entire, fresh foods.

You can reduce your consumption of packaged meals and dine out. Additionally, choosing more low-sodium meals will help you reduce your salt intake as you become more adept at understanding nutrition fact labels.

2) Foods that are high in Potassium

The deleterious effects of sodium are balanced and counteracted by potassium. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that increased potassium consumption is linked to better heart health and may even lower blood pressure.

But in the usual American diet, fruits and vegetables, which are high in potassium, are frequently the items that are least consumed.

3) Other healthy foods

For certain people, lowering salt intake and increasing potassium intake from food can have a significant positive impact on heart health. But dietary fat, added sugar, and fiber needs to be taken into account as well.

The American Heart Association advises eating a balanced diet with a focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fats.

What are some dash diet meal plans?

Everybody's DASH diet meal plan will be unique. The secret is to prioritize healthy foods while avoiding less healthy ones.

Fill your shopping cart at the grocery store with Whole Foods and low-sodium boxed, bagged, or canned options. For instance, instant oatmeal packets have sodium added, whereas original or quick-cooked oats in the canister have 0 milligrams of sodium.

The DASH diet also includes beans as a key component. Canned beans are a suitable substitute for dry beans if you don't have the time to make them. However, search for salt-free varieties and be sure to rinse them.

Build your meals around DASH-compliant items that you enjoy. Not a fan of green peppers? Instead, eat some carrots, celery, or red peppers. Use less salt, more vegetables, and whole-grain brown rice instead of white rice when making your favorite stir fry.

Edited by Divya Singh
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