The full name of the DASH diet is Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet was designed to reduce high blood pressure. While rich in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, it restricts red meat, salt, added sugars and fat. The DASH eating plan requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. This plan recommends:
- Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
- Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
- Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets
How DASH Diet Works
The DASH diet is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber; and has a low content of sodium (salt) and saturated fat. Adding more of these nutrients improve the electrolyte balance in the body, allowing it to excrete an excess fluid that contributes to high blood pressure. These nutrients also promote relaxation of the blood vessels, reducing blood pressure. These nutrients are often deficient in overweight and obese people, so the DASH diet can help correct those deficiencies and help people feel better. By itself, some people may lose weight with the DASH diet, but most will need to add exercise or further reduce carbohydrates to see big weight losses.
What foods and drinks should be avoided?
Foods and drinks to avoid when following the DASH diet include high sugar, high fat snacks, and foods high in salt such as:
- Salted nuts
- Sugary beverages
- Meat dishes
- Prepackaged pasta and rice dishes
- Salad dressings
- Breads and rolls
- Sauces and gravies
Here are some general tips for this diet:
- Make sure there is plenty of color on the plate.
- Include fruits, vegetables, and nonfat or low-fat dairy foods.
- Have at least two side dishes of vegetables.
- Prepare fruit-based desserts, rather than pastries.
- Focus on an overall eating plan, rather than specific dishes, to get a variety of nutrients.