All About The DASH Diet
Researchers from 5 major medical centers found that consuming a specific diet plan rich in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy can be a powerful tool in lowering high blood pressure while helping to lose weight.
What Is The DASH Diet Plan?
The DASH diet plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop High blood pressure) was created in 1996 to lower high blood pressure about the same as a blood pressure medication would. By avoiding a reliance on medication and changing the patient’s lifestyle the diet was designed to keep the user interested and engaged while improving their health and losing weight. The DASH diet is one of the most recommended diet plans by physicians all over the world.
The DASH Diet is highly recommended by the American Heart Association.
DASH have been published in the USDA’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and is included in the United States High Blood Pressure Standards. Numerous tests have shown positive results for lowering blood pressure, reducing hypertension, lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of diabetes and helping to maintain long term weight loss.
The DASH DIET Plan Study
Most of the studies done recently have been designed to tests all aspects of the plan as well as its overall effectiveness. The majority of test subjects were concentrated on three types of diet alternatives that were tested against the DASH diet.
- A diet that was considered a typical America diet. High in fat and sugar and relying on processed foods.
- A diet plan that added larger amounts of fruits and vegetables. There were still a higher than recommended portion of fats, sugars and processed foods but there were more fruits and vegetables in each meal.
- The DASH diet plan was assigned to the third group. These meals focused on plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Low fat dairy was used, but in lower amounts. There were moderate amounts of fish, chicken and nuts in the plan. These subjects also saw a dramatic reduction in the consumption of red meat, sugars and processed foods
As a strategy to make sure that the test was going to measure results based only on dietary changes the subjects were asked not to take any other steps that might lower blood pressure. They were asked not to add any more exercise to their daily routine and not to take any medications that were designed to lower blood pressure.
Frequent weigh-ins were done to all of the participants so that all weight gains or losses could be monitored and addressed. The goal for these tests wasn’t weight loss, instead the goal was to monitor blood pressure levels. Anyone who lost weight saw an increase in the amount of food given to them.
Sodium and salt consumption was equal with all three diet plans, the level being about average for a typical American but higher than recommended by most physicians.
DASH Diet Outcomes
As you might expect, subjects who followed the normal American diet plan saw no modification or change in their blood pressure.
Subjects who were following the second diet plan, the one that added small amounts of fruits and vegetables to an American diet, saw a significant reduction of their systolic high blood pressure. The upper number, which is a measurement of high blood pressure in the arteries when the heart is pumping, was lowered significantly, but there was little change in their diastolic pressure.
All of the test subjects who followed the DASH Diet Plan for the full eight weeks experienced a considerable reduction in both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. Modifications took place within the first week after beginning the DASH diet. The readings stabilized within two weeks, and remained reduced and improved for the remainder of the eight weeks.
Typically, blood pressure fell 5.5 mmHg (systolic) and 3.0 mmHg (diastolic) among all participants (including both those with normal high blood pressure and those with hypertension).
In participants with hypertension, blood pressure dropped approximately 11.4 mmHg (systolic) and 5.5 mmHg(diastolic).
These enhancements in high blood pressure are about the very same a swhat can be attained with a single anti-hypertensive medication, without the risk of side effects. Also, there was a significant cost savings when factoring the expense of medication.
The DASH Diet Plan Brought Other Positive Health Results
Most notably, the DASH diet lowered the test subject’s cholesterol levels. When high cholesterol levels are present, fatty substances collect in your capillaries. Over time these fatty deposits can severely restrict or even block the flow of blood to your heart.
High cholesterol is typically caused by a diet high in unsaturated fats. Let untreated it can become a major contributor to cardiovascular and other types of heart diseases.
The DASH Diet Plan Is Low In Saturated Fat
People who followed the DASH diet plan during the research study saw their cholesterol drop by an average of 14 points. Their LDL levels (“bad” cholesterol”) dropped by an average of 11points. When people reduced their total fat intake, the level of good cholesterol (HDL) also fell by an average of almost 3 points. These positive results proved that a low fat, fruit and vegetable based diet can make significant improvements on a person’s cholesterol level without the use of medications.
Boston University Medical School did another study on the DASH Diet during which it offered the DASH Diet plan to employees of a very large United States corporation. Over 4,000 individuals enrolled in the DASH program and used the online website to take part in the plan. The subjects got email reminders every week to log in to the site. Once online they would receive information on how to read food labels, meal planning, shopping for the diet and other lifestyle tips. All participants were encouraged to chart their activities and all of the changes they noticed, such as weight loss, blood pressure and general health.
DASH Diet Led To Weight Loss And Better Health
By following the DASH program for just one year most of the participants recorded significant weight loss and a dramatic reduction in blood pressure. Many also reported that they were including more fruits and vegetables in their diets and that they were eating less fat and fewer processed foods.
The success of the DASH diet plan used in this study prompted the researchers to make the plan available online to the general public. These same researchers concluded that the DASH program is an excellent plan for most Americans because it doesn’t require dramatic lifestyle changes. The meal plans are designed around foods easily found in all supermarkets and grocery stores, and the food itself is not expensive or difficult to prepare. The results were consistent and showed profound improvements in the overall health of the people who followed DASH.