The DASH Diet Review

Originally designed to combat the effects of the average American’s unhealthy diet in the early 1990’s, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has changed and developed with population trends to stay on top of healthy diets lists for lifestyle, lowering blood pressure and diabetes health for years.

The DASH diet has been listed by the U.S News and World Report as the top rated diet, for it's ease of use, weight loss and health results. The development of the diet was sponsored by the National Institute of Health using rigorous scientific testing to ensure it's accessibility, maximum health benefits and minimal side effects.

DASH Diet Dinner: Salmon & BroccoliThe DASH Diet Dinner: Salmon and roasted broccoli

While it was not specifically targeting weight loss, over the years it has evolved and changed, focussing on different areas. There have been a number of changes to the program, including that the program now targets not only the high blood pressure issues, but also obesity. One of the more recent diet options available is the DASH diet for weight loss.

The Dash Diet Plan

The DASH diet is designed to use real food that is readily available to the general public. It encompasses a lifestyle change to the average American diet, adding a lot of lean poultry and fish, fruit and vegetables, legumes and low fat dairy, and cutting back on sugar, processed foods and red meat. The Diet calls for four to five servings each of fresh fruit and vegetables per day, which is twice the generally recommended amount for healthy living.

The DASH diet food list also features many of the high antioxidant foods. These are thought by some to be beneficial in combating diseases such as cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. They include the large amounts of fruit and vegetables, making a particular point that they be fresh and as unprocessed as possible.

Daily Nutrient Goals

Daily Nutrient Goals Used in the DASH Studies (for a 2,000-Calorie Eating Plan)

  • Total fat 27% of calories
  • Protein 18% of calories
  • Carbohydrate 55% of calories
  • Cholesterol 150 mg
  • Sodium 2,300 mg

Sample Menu (1,400 calories)

  • Breakfast
    Oatmeal
    Fat Free Milk (1 cup)
  • Lunch
    Heavenly Chicken With Angel Hair Pasta
  • Dinner
    Mustard Roasted Salmon
    Spicy Roasted Broccoli
    Rainbow Fruit Salad
  • Snacks
    Soy Nut and Apricot Trail Mix
  • Nutritional Information
    Calories: 1,348 calories
    Fats: 22% of calories
    Protein: 26% of calories
    Carbohydrate: 52% of calories
    Cholesterol: 122 mg
    Sodium 833 mg

Nut and Apricot Trail MixNuts and Apricot Trail Mix are great for snacks

The diet has been not only available, but heavily promoted over the last 13 years by numerous American health organisations as a means to combat long term health issues prevalent in the population. Due to its popularity, there are hundreds of cook books, social media groups and websites dedicated to exploring creative ways of eating within the DASH diet parameters.

The diet is designed to be user friendly and has the potential to be adopted as a lifestyle change as opposed to being treated as a short term health or weight loss fix. Food choices are flexible, participants can adapt their own recipes to fit into the DASH diet parameters, and suit other family members, helping to make it sustainable in the long term.

Pro's and Con's of the DASH Diets

Pro’s

  1. There are long term health benefits, participants reporting a lowering of cholesterol and blood pressure.
  2. The DASH diet is easily transferable to the whole family. Those who don’t need to lose weight can have larger portion sizes of the real food DASH diet recipes.
  3. There is the potential for participants to make a real and lasting lifestyle change. The versatility and choice mean that dieters don’t get bored and have the freedom to experiment with food in creative and sustainable ways.

Cons

  1. Because there is a high focus on increasing fruit and vegetables as part of the Dash diet, some participants may find it challenging when they suddenly introduce foods with high fibre content, experiencing uncomfortable bloating.
  2. For some people the vague nature of the dash diet, ie there are no set rules and menus, may be difficult to wrap your head around. For those who thrive on the strictness of a structure, the DASH diet can be challenging.

The DASH diet has the potential to have long lasting and far reaching effects. At an individual level, dieters can lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lose weight, and eat a clean diet. Through its long term implementation and uptake, families, communities and potentially national health can be improved dramatically.