Benefits of DASH Diet

Submitted by Kevin Pederson on July 31, 2012

The DASH diet was developed for people with heart problems. Dash stands for: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Most diets for heart patients are based on low sodium only. The DASH diet involves not only low sodium, but fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.


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It is recommended by the American Heart Association and the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The new USDA MyPyramid is also based on this diet.

In two weeks time, a person following this diet can lower his or her blood pressure.

It is especially helpful if your pressure is only moderately high. If your pressure is higher, it may take longer than the two weeks to start seeing a difference. The diet will also help you improve your response to your medication.

The DASH diet focuses on increasing vitamins and minerals in the diet that can naturally lower blood pressure. These include but are not limited to: calcium, magnesium, potassium, and protein. Not only do these foods contain the vitamins and minerals, but they also contain fiber. A diet that is high in fiber fills you up faster and helps control cravings. When you are getting full faster and having fewer cravings, you eat less food. This especially includes less junk food. Junk food can be a downfall to any diet.

We have all seen the USDAs food pyramid. The new version calls for the following per day servings: grains = 6-12; fruits = 4-6; vegetables = 4-6; low fat dairy products = 2-4; lean meats, fish and poultry = 1 ½ - 2 ½; nuts, seeds, and legumes = 3 - 6 (per week); and fats and sweets = 2-4.

This is a diet that you will have to build up to and get used to. It's not easy at first to get all of the right servings in when you need to. However, with a little practice and after learning the portions of servings, this can be accomplished.

Some examples of DASH diet menu and recipes:

  • Whole wheat bread, cereal, brown rice. - These provide: fiber
  • Broccoli, carrots, squash, peas, spinach. - These provide: potassium, magnesium and fiber
  • Apples, bananas, dates, grapes, oranges, strawberries. - These provide: potassium, magnesium and fiber
  • Low fat milk, cheeses, yogurt. - These provide: calcium and protein
  • Lean meats. - These provide: magnesium and protein
  • Almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lentils. - These provide: protein, magnesium, fiber

This diet, if used properly, can provide the essential vitamins and minerals, fiber and protein needed for good health without providing a lot of simple sugars and fats.

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