What is the Dash Diet Plan – How it Works – Pros and Cons

Dash diet is a diet specially made for people suffering from high blood pressure. By following this diet properly you can reduce the intake of sodium and this helps you in lowering your blood pressure. Dash diet is not very difficult to follow. By following this diet you can reduce your blood pressure as well as avoid many other diseases. The diet focuses on eating the right kind of food and that too at the in the correct proportions and at the right time. People follow this diet for short term as well as long term weight loss and it is getting very popular with all health conscious people around the world. So, let us see what Dash diet is.

Dash Diet Meal Plan

What is DASH Diet Meal Plan – How it Works?

DASH diet expanded is ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’. So it is an ideal diet for those who want to reduce their blood pressure. Along with lowering of blood pressure it also has added advantages as it focus on eating the right food at the right time. Following this diet can help you fight against osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, heart problems and other such diseases. Eating the right kind of food helps you to get rid of the extra pounds you have got and this way you can have a healthier life.

By following Dash diet you can reduce the amount of sodium that you have per day. When you have a traditional diet, you take in as much as 3500 mg of sodium per day. When you have dash diet, you can reduce the intake of sodium to 1500 mg to 2300 mg per day. Here you are required to lower the levels of sodium in your diet to the minimum. More importance is given to vegetables, fruits and low fat dairy products. You can also consume nuts, poultry, whole grains, fish and so on. This diet also allows you to have some sweets and red meat, but in low quantities.

How to Start the Dash Diet:

You have to follow the below given tips in order to make dash diet a success. These are as follows:

  • Having 6 to 8 servings of whole grains: Taking in whole grains increases the amount of fiber that you consume. You must always remember to consume whole grains and not refined grains. So, brown rice is always better than white rice. Instead of the regular pasta and bread that you get in the market, you can have whole grain wheat pasta and bread.. These are more nutritious and benefit you a lot. The fiber contains nutrients that are useful for the body. Whole grains are low on fat and so good for losing weight. Spreads and toppings that increase your body weight should also be avoided.
  • Have 4 to 5 servings of vegetables: Vegetables are always good for your health and prevent a lot of diseases. You can have vegetables in the raw form or cook them and have them. Stir fried, steamed and boiled vegetables are also good for you. Some of the vegetables that are beneficial for you are broccoli, spinach, carrots, tomatoes and so on. These are rich in minerals as well a fiber. When you buy canned vegetables, make sure that the sodium content in them is low.
  • Have 4 to 5 servings of fruits: Just like vegetables, fruits are also rich sources of fiber and minerals. Potassium and magnesium are found in large quantities in fruits. It is good if you include as much fruits in your daily diet as it is possible for you. You can have fruits in the raw form and also make fruit salads and have them. Adding fruits to salads makes the salad nutritious and more tasty. Some add them as toppings on low fat yogurt. This way it is made more delicious.
  • 2 to 3 servings of low-fat dairy products: Include low-fat dairy products like low-fat yogurt and skimmed milk in your daily diet. These are rich sources of Vitamin D and calcium. It is better if you avoid cheese because it is full of sodium. Even low-fat cheese is a good source of sodium.
  • Reduce the intake of meat: Meat contains cholesterol and fat in high amounts. So you must reduce the intake of meat. Instead of meat you may have healthy foods like kidney beans, almonds, legumes, sunflower seeds and so on. These are the storehouses of protein and are also loaded with minerals like magnesium and potassium.
  • Consume good fat: Fats are essential for your body and you must have it in proper amounts. They help your body to absorb all vitamins that are essential for you and also increase the immunity power of the body. But you must take care to have foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats in your daily diet. Avoid taking in trans-fat, as it is harmful for your body.
  • Limit the intake of sweets as much as possible: Try to reduce the amount of sweet that you consume when you follow dash diet. You need not completely avoid sweets, but keep a control and take as little as it is possible for you.
  • Limit alcohol: When you follow dash diet, you must take care to reduce the intake of alcohol. Alcohol is not good for your body and it can increase the blood pressure.

Pros and Cons of Dash Diet Plan:

Pros:

  • This plan doesn’t suggest any restrictive eating on good carbs
  • Rated Number 1 Diet Program by U.S. News and World Report
  • Considered a Well-balanced and Sustainable plan
  • Endorsed by many healthcare organizations of the world like NIH, AHA and USDA MyPyramid

Cons:

  1. Unlike other weight loss programs this doesn’t support quick weight loss. You need to follow long term strategy to make it work.
  2. Lack of support and information available to its followers

Following a diet plan does not mean that you follow it for a few weeks and then get back to your old eating habits. Diet is always a long term plan and you must accept it as a part of your life. It is all the more important when you have a high blood pressure. It is natural that you may deviate from your diet plan for a day or two. You need not worry about such problems as it is not easy to incorporate this new style of eating all of a sudden. All you need is to give some time and be patient.

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