Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a dietary model to prevent and control hypertension but it’s not just those with high blood pressure that it helps.
Considered a true diet plan over a “fad” diet, DASH is regarded by physicians worldwide as the best overall way of losing weight and lowering blood pressure. Originally developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of America to prevent high blood pressure, DASH diet advocates eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less salt. Pretty straight forward.
While Weight Watchers may get full marks for best weight lost methods, best commercial diet plan, and easiest-to-follow plan, DASH raced to the front of the line as best of 32 diet plans in recent studies. DASH won for best in weight, diabetes prevention and easiest to follow amongst other categories. DASH also took lead position for best diabetes diet.
The best heart healthy diet was given to the Ornish diet, a low-fat approach and the Mediterranean diet, which stresses eating fruits, grains, vegetables, olive oil, and other healthy foods, took first place for the best plant-based diet.
The two diets that came in last place overall were the Paleo diet and the Dukan diet; Paleo highlights meat, fish and poultry but seen as unfeasible and Dukan stresses high protein, which experts call restrictive and potentially unhealthy.
Diet rankings are based on reviews of the 32 diets by a panel of health and nutrition experts. Connie Diekman, RD, director of university nutrition for Washington University said, “The diets topping the charts focus on health, nutritional needs, and palatability, factors that are essential to maintaining eating plans that will meet individual needs.” By putting emphasis on those factors, she says, the importance gets shifted from a diet as a lifestyle, not a quick fix.
In order for DASH to be most effective, the diet requires a certain number of servings daily from various food groups. The amount of servings you require depends on how many calories you burn each day. For example, you can begin limiting yourself to 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day (say one teaspoon). Once your body adjusts reduce sodium further to say 1,500 milligrams per day. These amounts should factor in all sodium, including sodium in the food products you consume as well as in what you cook or add directly from a slat shaker. One needs to pay attention to this part of the diet, the sodium levels.
Getting DASH right, remember these simple approaches:
• Add an extra serving of vegetables at lunch and at dinner.
• Add a serving of fruit to your meals or as a snack.
• Canned and dried fruits are easy to use though ensure they don’t have added sugar.
• When it comes to butter, margarine, or salad dressing use
half what you would normally use and try low-fat or fat-free condiments.
• Try low fat or skim dairy products instead of full fat or cream.
• Limit meat to small portions. Make some meals vegetarian.
• Snacks should only be unsalted pretzels or nuts, raisins, low-fat and
fat-free yogurt, frozen yogurt, unsalted plain popcorn with no butter and raw vegetables.