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Thoughts on the DASH Diet

Feb 24, 2022

Thoughts on the DASH Diet

Healthy living is all about combining nutrition and exercise, finding a balance that is sustainable and manageable. Many people struggle to find that balance because of the number of available dietary options. It seems that there is some other new fad or trend nearly every day that is necessary for optimum health. While many diets are helpful and healthy, a significant number are not what experts would consider sustainable.

However, every once in a while, a diet appears that seems to have what it takes to be considered worthy of habit. The dietary approaches to stop hypertension or the DASH diet is one such program. With the support of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the diet seems to have some staying power.

Defining the DASH Diet

The primary purpose of the DASH diet is to prevent hypertension, high blood pressure. A participant of this dietary approach will focus on consuming foods high in nutrients like calcium, potassium, protein, and fiber, such as whole grains, veggies, fruits, low-fat dairy, and lean meats or proteins. If you opt to use the DASH program, you should limit or avoid fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, saturated fats, and sweets, including sugar-sweetened beverages.

Additionally, diet users will cap their sodium intake at 2,300 mg per day, and they will eventually commit to lowering that number to 1,500 mg per day. The diet is balanced, and many experts encourage the long-term use of the program, with some stating the diet’s ability to lower not only blood pressure but also stroke, diabetes, obesity, and cardiac risks.

Ease of Integration

The DASH diet is not like many fad diets that require immediate and strict adherence to the program. Instead, dieters make a progression of small, impactful changes that are manageable, such as adding a serving of fruits or vegetables to every meal. Some of the other rules include:

  • Introducing meat-free meals a couple of times per week
  • Using spices and herbs to improve taste rather than salt
  • Using nuts for snacks
  • Switching to whole wheat flour
  • Taking a 15-minute walk in the afternoon or evening

The diet is relatively easy to implement, but it does require planning and commitment. If you are used to eating convenience meals, the diet can be a significant change because it requires cooking at home. Despite developing potentially new habits, there is plenty of information and guidance on the diet, including countless recipes from reputable sources.

Support From the Community

The DASH diet is not new; it has been around for several years. Because it has a history, there are many established recipes and communities to help new dieters. There is an official website with links to cookbooks and instructional materials. If you want more community support than what is offered on the official website, you can check out the Facebook support groups and other unofficial blogs. You can also find support from other organizations, such as the NHLBI and Mayo Clinic.

The DASH diet is a healthy and balanced approach to weight loss. However, the program does require work and commitment. Still, it is less restrictive than other diets and seems to provide enough support to make it a sustainable and manageable long-term program.

Category: health