The DASH diet has won numerous award for being the healthiest, most successful, diet ever invented. It was initially created by the National Institutes of Health as an effective method for lowering blood pressure without using extensive medication. Scientific research has since concluded that the DASH diet is effective in preventing and counteracting numerous other diseases. Amongst these are included: cancer, stroke, kidney stones, heart disease, heart failure, and particularly diabetes.
It is also one of the easiest and healthiest ways to lose weight. It was voted as the best diet in the US News and World ranking for three consecutive years and is likely to remain at the top in 2014.
What is the DASH Diet?
If you choose to follow the DASH diet plan you will be changing your diet to include, primarily, fruit and vegetables and low-fat dairy products. The thing that most people like about this diet is that it doesn’t exclude grains and meats. There is a focus on eating wholegrain products but that isn’t necessary absolutely all of the time. Lean meats, poultry and fish are preferred, alongside nuts and beans.
It is particularly high in fibre and relatively low in fat. It also follows the US government guidelines for salt intake
It is in many ways closely related to the Mediterranean diet. It promotes lower blood pressure through its richness in nutrients known to have a lowering effect: these include, but are not limited to potassium, magnesium and calcium.
In specific and practical terms, this is what following the DASH diet would involve for an average 2000 calories/day diet:
Grains: six to eight servings per day. A typical example of a serving is one slice of bread. In the larger framework of the diet, grains act as a key source of fibre and energy.
Vegetables: four to five servings per day. A serving is equal to one cup of a (raw) leafy vegetable. The vegetables act as the main source of magnesium and potassium, as well as being an important source of fibre.
Fruits: four to five servings of fruit. This is in line with the official recommendation. Nutrient qualities are much the same as those offered by vegetables.
Dairy Products: two to three portions. One portion is equal to a glass of milk. Low fat dairy products act as a major source of calcium and protein.
Meats (lean, fish, poultry): you should have no more than six portions of meat, and only lean cuts at that. Meat is a major source of protein. One portion is equal to one ounce.
Nuts seeds and legumes: 4 to six portions per week.
There are numerous resources available from the official diet plan website. The “DASH Diet Action Plan” is the most popular book that they sell and provides information about the diet programme and offers support as you reach your goals of lower blood pressure and/or cholesterol. If you are specifically looking to lose weight then there is also a book designed with that particular goal in mind. There is also a cookbook available to buy that you can use