Alongside the Mediterranean Diet plan, DASH Diet has been termed as the healthiest meal plan. The beginning of the year saw these two diet plans awarded the shared title of Best Overall Diet. This means that the DASH diet is nutritious, easy to follow, effective in natural weight loss, and provides protection against heart diseases and diabetes. Since the diet plan is considered the best, it is only natural to question, ‘what it is, its benefits, and what’s the DASH diet menu?’

What is DASH Diet?

The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The name is pretty self-explanatory and the eating plan was developed as part of a research sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The primary objective of the plan was to cut down the risk of high blood pressure without having to depend on medication.

Almost every 1 in 3 adults is exposed to the risk of hypertension with around 75 million Americans adults being victims of high blood pressure. This 32% of the population are also at a mushroomed risk of heart stroke and diseases, as hypertension is a precursor of these and other health concerns.

These whopping statistics reveal the need for such a diet plan as the DASH diet so that increasing number of people can improve their heart health. Your health is akin to a chain with each element being a link in the chain. For instance, a properly managed blood pressure correlated with good heart health. A healthy heart, in turn, culminates in good brain health.

The DASH Diet Menu

This meal plan is fully backed by research. The first research on DASH diet confirmed that it assists in lowering high blood pressure without depending on the medication. Subsequent studies have revealed that the DASH diet help to cut down the risk of several diseases. These include certain cancer types, heart diseases, kidney stones, diabetes, stroke, and heart failure.

The meal plan is also known for aiding in shedding the extra pounds while simultaneously becoming healthier. The menu of this diet plan revolves around vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. More on the DASH diet menu includes fish, whole grains, nuts, and poultry. Limited portions of sweets, sugary beverages, and red meat are also permitted.

But just like any other diet plan, you have to be careful about what you pick to satisfy your hunger. Think healthy before your hand lends on any and every appetizer, soup, salads, and even drinks. It is preferable to choose water, diet soda, tea, club soda, and fruit juice. In case of alcoholic beverages, moderation is best suggested. Additionally, appetizers should boast fruits, fish, or healthy vegetables as their main highlight before you select those for yourself.

Here is a quick sum-up of the DASH diet menu:

  • Eating fat-free or low-fat items from the dairy, poultry, fish, nuts, vegetable oils, and beans
  • Basic skeletal framework of the diet plan is based on vegetables, whole grains, and fruits
  • Limiting sugared sweets and beverages
  • Curbing foods that have a highly saturated fat content. These include full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, and tropical oils like palm, palm kernel, and coconut oils.

The diet plan focuses on eating small portions of healthy foods to get the right amount of nourishment. Since the central concern is lowering blood pressure, the sodium content is also controlled in this meal plan.

In a typical American diet, the sodium diet content equates to around 3400 mg, whereas, the recommended amount stands at 2300 mg as per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. According to the DASH diet, there are two markers for sodium intake, which can be selected as per your health condition and requirement. These are:

  • Standard DASH diet: You can consume around 2300 mg of sodium per day
  • Lower sodium DASH diet: This concentrates on consuming up to 1500 mg of sodium a day

Coffee and Alcohol in the Diet Plan

There are no specific recommendations of coffee as per the guidelines of this eating plan. However, several people consider caffeinate drinks responsible for a rise in blood pressure. Therefore, they refrain from taking coffee.

Alcohol is also allowed in limited or moderate quantities by the DASH diet. Heavy alcohol consumption has been associated with an increase in the blood pressure. In fact, drinking more than 3 glasses of alcohol is linked to high blood pressure as well as heart disease.

Benefits of DASH Diet

This diet plan exhibits several health advantages. Originally, the meal chart was planned to lower high blood pressure and, with it, cut the risk of heart diseases. In this way, the foremost benefit of this meal plan is healthy cardiovascular health. However, research has shown that there are more advantages that DASH diet can yield in addition to improved heart health. These include:

-Declined risk of metabolic syndrome

Several studies indicate the DASH diet reduces the risk of developing metabolic syndrome by approximately 81%.

-Slashed diabetes risk

DASH diet also corresponds with a decline in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Certain studies also indicate that this meal plan can boost insulin resistance.

-Decreased risk of cancer

The risk of developing certain cancers is also declined with the aid of the DASH diet. These cancers include breast and colorectal cancer.

-Cut in the risk of heart disease

As blood pressure comes under control with this diet plan, the risk odds of developing heart disease is also cut. A study showed the DASH diet helps to lower the risk of heart disease by 20%.

-Aids in weight loss

This meal plan also helps to bring down the weight digits with its healthy eating plan. If you plan on reducing weight with the help of this meal plan, then you need to ensure that you are eating fewer calories than the ones that you are burning.

-Deflates the risk of depression

A recent study has also pointed out that this diet plan correlates with slashed risk of depression. The six-year study showed that DASH diet reduces the odds of depression by 11%. Since DASH diet is a step to a healthy lifestyle, it helps to curb depression.

Lifestyle Changes Along with the DASH Diet

DASH diet is a step toward a healthy lifestyle. A good lifestyle is a pre-requisite for ideal health well-being. It also encourages healthy heart and brain health that have high occurrence rate of diseases due to health neglect.

The other measures of a healthy lifestyle that can be accompanied along with the DASH diet include regular exercise, quitting smoking, losing weight, managing stress, and getting good sleep. All these are important steps for promoting health wellbeing as well as positive well-being.

Healthline states that the DASH diet should be paired with regular physical activity. This multiplies the effectiveness of the diet plan. Only 30 minutes of moderate exercise can chip in numerous health benefits. Some examples of moderate activity include walking, cycling, running, swimming or doing housework for 60 minutes.

Key takeaway

DASH diet menu is a healthy eating plan that is great for your overall health. It is, specifically, chalked out for lowering blood pressure, however, research shows that the diet plan yields several health advantages.