What is a DASH Diet?

What is the DASH diet?

The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a diet promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute which is a part of the NIH, a United States government organization, to control hypertension.

Typical DASH Diet

A major feature of the DASH diet plan is limiting intake of sodium.

It also generally encourages the consumption of:

  • nuts,
  • whole grains,
  • fish,
  • poultry,
  • fruits and
  • vegetables

while lowering the consumption of:

  • red meats,
  • sweets, and
  • sugar.

It is also “rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber.

What is the DASH diet based on?

The DASH diet is based on NIH studies that examined three dietary plans and their results. None of the plans were vegetarian, but the DASH plan incorporated more than the others studied:

  • fruits and vegetables,
  • low fat or nonfat dairy, beans, and nuts

Dash Diet Plan

Not only does the DASH diet plan emphasizes good eating habits, but also suggests healthy alternatives to “junk food” and discourages the consumption of processed foods. The DASH diet reduced systolic blood pressure by 6 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg in patients with normal blood pressure. Those with hypertension dropped by 11 and 6, respectively. There are several eating plans included in the diet, with the daily caloric intake ranging from 1699 to 3100 dietary calories.

NIH DASH Diet Guidebook

The NIH has published a Dash diet plan guidebook, “Your Guide to Lowering your Blood Pressure With DASH”, which details the nutrition facts of popular mainstream food items and their healthy alternatives. The manual also provides samples of meal plans and proportions along with their associated nutritional information. The last pages of the manual provides a list of resources and how to obtain them.