What is the DASH Diet?

LowSaltThe DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet is an eating plan designed to help you reduce high blood pressure through dietary change. It does this by encouraging you to eat healthier food and to reduce the salt in your diet.

The overall goal of the DASH Diet is to reduce (or even completely eliminate) your blood pressure medications so that you can live a more normal, natural lifestyle.

The first research into the DASH Diet showed that it was very effective at lowering blood pressure and even for helping many people off their medication as promised. Many studies have since been carried out to show how the DASH Diet can also reduce your risk of developing many other diseases such as diabetes, kidney stones, heart failure, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.

One main focus of the DASH Diet is to reduce the amount of sodium (salt) that you eat each day. There are two main DASH Diet options to control your sodium intake; the ‘regular’ DASH Diet that will keep you under 2300mg of sodium each day, and the ‘special’ DASH Diet, which will limit your sodium intake to 1500mg of sodium per day (or even less if you like).

To put this into perspective, only 500mg of sodium is required to keep your body running properly each day! Most Americans consume much more sodium than they need – in fact, the average American diet sees each adult eating almost 3500mg of sodium each day! This is far, far more sodium than your body needs – this excess salt is often the reason for elevated blood pressure as well as a higher risk of experiencing a stroke.

wrap 1 -780In addition to reducing the amount of salt that you eat, the DASH Diet will guide you towards eating more healthy and nutritious types of foods. These include six servings of whole grains each day, five servings of fruit, five servings of vegetables, five servings of nuts and legumes, and two servings of dairy each day.

In addition, as part of the diet you should have no more than six servings of lean meats like poultry and fish per day, while fat intake needs to be spread evenly throughout the day and limited no more than a quarter of your daily caloric intake. (I go into more detail about food types and serving sizes later in this book).

The DASH Diet has seen astounding results. According to a study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes, people who follow the regular DASH Diet showed a huge decrease in blood pressure. Those who followed the even-more-strict ‘special’ 1500mg salt limit saw even better results!

According to research done by the Institutes of Health, DASH Diet participants who followed the 1500 mg restrictions saw their blood pressure drop by 11.5 mm Hg (on average) after just two weeks on the DASH Diet (normal resting blood pressure for an adult is approximately 120/80 mm Hg.)

Is the DASH Diet right for me?

The DASH Diet was originally developed to help people who suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension). Many individuals who first adopted this diet did so because medication, their current diets and even exercise were not enough to reduce their blood pressure. After starting the DASH Diet, many people saw a reduction in their hypertension in just the first few weeks – and they saw even-better long-term results when they followed it for an extended period.

If you are someone who is dealing with issues relating to high blood pressure and have already tried medications and other strategies to try to reduce it, speak to your doctor about the DASH Diet – it might just be the right choice for you.

With its focus on healthy, wholesome, affordable food choices, there is a DASH Diet option which is right for everyone!

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This is an excerpt from the cookbook Make Me Salt-lite… in 30 Minutes!, which is available below!

Make Me Salt-lite… in 30 Minutes!

Make Me Salt-lite… in 30 Minutes!

$3.99
This life-changing low-salt cookbook will show you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT USING DIET TO REDUCE YOUR CHANCES OF STROKE, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND HEART ATTACK, and still keeping the TASTE in every single meal you eat! It includes a complete two-week flexible DASH Diet meal planner with 54 recipes for FULL-FLAVORED low-salt breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts! More info →

Three DASH Diet variations

Original ‘regular’ DASH Diet

salmon2 780The original DASH Diet was intended to help reduce the amount of salt that you eat each day in your meals. Many Americans eat far too much salt because they eat out (both restaurant and fast food) far too often, or they consume prepared and processed foods that contain excess salt for taste, or to preserve them.

Over time, this salt intake causes blood pressure to skyrocket. Sometimes exercise, minor dietary changes, or even medications will not be enough to fix the problem.

The original DASH Diet targeted a daily sodium intake of less than 2600 mg a day (remember, the average adult American diet includes more than 3500mg of salt per day!). This 2600 mg level still allows you to eat some salty foods, or to use a bit of salt as seasoning, but it also places some strict limits on the amount of fast food and the use of prepackaged and processed foods you can eat.

If you cook your meals at home, staying in this limit is not too difficult if you make sure to use fresh ingredients and do not use too many types of processed foods. On the other hand, if you eat out regularly, you might find that you only have limited options that keep you within this limit. You have to ask yourself what is more important – your health, or that next hot dog?

The original DASH Diet is extremely effective in helping you to reduce your blood pressure, since it decreases your average daily salt intake substantially. Remember that the 2600 mg daily salt limit is based on a 2000-calorie diet – you may have to change it up a little if you eat fewer calories each day.

 

Reduced-Salt ‘special’ DASH Diet

margherita-pizza 780Another DASH Diet variation is the ‘reduced-salt’ plan. This is the plan recommended for people who are on blood-pressure medications, or who have tried other methods of lowering blood pressure without luck. The reduced-salt DASH Diet asks you to reduce your sodium intake to 1500 mg a day (or less, if you can!).

This may cause you some difficulties to begin with. It isn’t easy to cut down on your sodium this much this quickly. You will need to rely much more on fresh foods, and importantly, you must cook all of your meals rather than relying on packaged cans and other goods. This book contains meal plans and recipes to get you started. Eating out will most likely be out of the question, at least until you can get your blood pressure down to a safer level.

The reduced-salt DASH Diet program is not easy, but don’t be disheartened. Cooking healthy foods is fun and you will see results in no time at all. Studies have shown that dramatic reductions in blood pressure occur in two weeks or less for those who follow the reduced-salt diet. If you are having difficulties with your blood-pressure medications and have hypertension, it might be a good idea to look into the reduced-salt DASH Diet since it may be able to rapidly reduce your blood pressure.

 

Vegetarian DASH Diet

penne 780It is easy to make the DASH Diet work with your vegetarian lifestyle, with just a few simple modifications!

Hypertension and high blood pressure do not play favorites. People from all walks of life and following all sorts of lifestyles need help in reducing hypertension. One such group is people who follow a vegetarian diet.

The DASH Diet is great for any group because you can easily modify it so that it fits into your lifestyle. This means that if you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, the DASH Diet is still a great choice – you can use it in conjunction with your existing diet.

The DASH Diet promotes a lifestyle which is low in fat, high in fiber, and low in sodium, with a lot of low-fat dairy, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. All of these are fine for a vegetarian diet. If you follow a stricter ‘vegan’ diet which excludes dairy, other non-dairy substitutions can easily be found to fit the bill. Other versions of the DASH Diet encourage you to eat some beef and lots of poultry and fish, however it is easy to substitute these sources of protein with alternate protein sources to fit your diet. Soy options and tofu can be great protein substitutions.

***

This is an excerpt from the cookbook Make Me Salt-lite… in 30 Minutes!, which is available below!

Make Me Salt-lite… in 30 Minutes!

Make Me Salt-lite… in 30 Minutes!

$3.99
This life-changing low-salt cookbook will show you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT USING DIET TO REDUCE YOUR CHANCES OF STROKE, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND HEART ATTACK, and still keeping the TASTE in every single meal you eat! It includes a complete two-week flexible DASH Diet meal planner with 54 recipes for FULL-FLAVORED low-salt breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts! More info →