The DASH diet – what is it and what do you need to know?

Casandra Greer
It takes approx. 4 minutes to read this article

The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a diet recommended for people struggling with hypertension. It is very simple and, above all, cheap. Nutritionists compare it to the Mediterranean diet. Be sure to check what its assumptions are and why it is worth using on a daily basis.

What is the DASH diet and how to use it?

In the United States in the 90s clinical trials were conducted on people who struggled with hypertension. They focused on the diet that affects the health of patients and normalization of blood pressure. There were 3 groups in the study, one following a typical American diet and the other two eating more fruits and vegetables. The last group additionally followed the DASH-sodium diet, thus limiting sodium intake. The results were quite surprising – the patients who ate more vegetables and additionally limited the saltiness of their food significantly normalized their blood pressure to the point that they were able to wean themselves off their hypertension medication.

Research on the DASH diet was at first just a medical experiment, but it gave very positive results – the way of eating significantly affects our body, as well as blood pressure levels. Currently many cardiologists recommend DASH diet to their patients as an addition to drug treatment.

The creators of the diet divided nutritional products into 8 groups, which they divided into appropriate portions, recommended for daily consumption. These are:

  • complex carbohydrates – groats, processed cereals, having a large amount of fiber, they are aimed at better absorption of fats and reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood, the daily recommended dose is 5-6 servings a day (one serving is, for example, a slice of whole grain bread or 100 g of groats);
  • vegetables and fruit containing a large amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene, which protect the blood vessels, regulate the body’s water balance and reduce blood pressure; nutritionists recommend 4 to 5 servings of vegetables and fruit daily – one serving is e.g. a glass of vegetable juice or raw and steamed vegetables;
  • protein, in the form of lean dairy products, meat and fish, full of polyunsaturated fatty acids and calcium – one serving is, for example, a glass of natural yoghurt.
  • 2-3 portions of fats – a teaspoon of mayonnaise, a tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil.

In addition to the above-mentioned products, you should also eat from 4 to 5 times a week seeds, nuts and legumes that lower the level of bad cholesterol. They have a positive effect on heart function, thanks to potassium and magnesium contained in them.

Interestingly, on the DASH diet you can allow yourself to eat 3 times a week a small amount of chocolate, preferably dark, and a teaspoon of honey, which reduces the risk of blood clots. One should also not forget about fish rich in omega-3 acids.

What are the principles of the DASH diet?

Products from the above-mentioned groups can be freely combined, keeping in mind the healthy proportions. It is recommended to eat from 5 to 6 meals a day and to limit the salt intake to one teaspoon a day. It is very important to hydrate the body – 1.5 liters of water is a minimum to provide the body with all the necessary minerals.

People with hypertension are advised to limit strong coffee, which can be replaced by green tea or low-sodium mineral water.

What are the advantages of following the DASH diet?

This diet not only lowers blood pressure, but also has a very positive effect on the whole body.

The advantages of following the DASH diet are:

  • better blood results – reduced levels of sugar and bad cholesterol,
  • healthier skin and hair,
  • more complete nourishment of the body,
  • no attacks of “ravenous hunger”,
  • weight loss,
  • improved condition of blood vessels,
  • better digestion, thanks to more fiber in your diet,
  • faster burning of calories,
  • more energy,
  • less swelling and bloating,
  • improved metabolism.

The DASH diet is very diverse and, above all, cheap, because it is based on commonly available products such as rice, groats, whole-grain bread or cottage cheese and lean meats.

Main photo: Louis Hansel/unsplash.com

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