In a world where Americans are struggling with high blood pressure and heart disease more than ever, it’s no surprise that there was a great deal of demand for a diet plan meant to address this modern epidemic. Ever since the DASH diet came along, millions of people have been empowered to take control of their health. The word DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and the diet itself has been approved by the USDA.
Although some DASH dieters may lose weight as a byproduct of adopting these nutritional changes, it should be noted that the primary focus of the DASH diet is to lower blood pressure. In fact, some of the people who decide to do the DASH diet may not even need to lose weight. During studies, many dieters have been able to lower their blood pressure without dropping any pounds. For people who are eager to keep some weight on but would like to take control of their blood pressure, this nutrition plan is highly effective. If a dieter wants to lose weight and lower blood pressure, then it will be best to follow the DASH diet in accordance with some caloric restrictions.
Throughout the process, you’ll want to keep in mind that your high blood pressure may not even be your fault. There can be a genetic component to high blood pressure, and it can also worsen as you age. Certain ethnic groups, such as African-Americans, can be predisposed to high blood pressure. The best course of action is to address the problem as soon as it occurs—or hopefully even sooner. Staying away from smoking is a good start, as is consuming alcohol in moderation—if you drink at all. However, for some people, the problem can only be addressed through dietary means.
The Science Behind the DASH Diet
Unlike many other diets, the foundation of DASH is absolutely rooted in science. It was almost 25 years ago when the the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute began coordinating studies with five of the most high-profile medical centers in the United States. Working in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, these experts sought to confront the growing epidemic of high blood pressure. Institutions involved with the study included Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Kaiser Permanente and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
These outpatient, groundbreaking studies sought to put dieters in situations that were as realistic as possible. Although they were given menus to follow, all of the food on their lists was relatively easy to procure at any grocery store. The researchers had some useful data to work with; they knew that diets high in fiber and vital nutrients were usually linked with lower blood pressure numbers. The official DASH study began in the summer of 1993 and concluded in the summer of 1997.
To make sure that their information gathering was relevant, the diet researchers even made sure to include a control group in their studies. This group consumed a menu that was more consistent with that of an average American; with low fiber and a protein pattern that mimicked a “normal” person’s diet, they set off on their quest to discover whether or not altering these eating patterns would have an effect upon patients’ blood pressure.
Using two other diets—one extremely focused on fruits and vegetables and one that became the DASH diet—the diet doctors began to monitor their results. In the end, it turned out that having dieters also partake in low-fat dairy, fish, nuts, poultry and whole grains was the answer.
Nowadays, when people practice the DASH diet, they’ll usually cut out whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables during the first week of their plan. This allows the body to become accustomed to the new diet, although these items will be added back in during the second week of the plan. Like all other good things in life, the DASH diet is all about moderation.
Celebrities That Are Fans of the DASH Diet
With many other diet plans, you’ll see singers, actresses and former football players taking to the airwaves in order to push their favorite plan—and score a pretty paycheck in the meantime. This is where DASH is different. This plan was created to address the concerns of a medical community that was inundated with patients suffering from high blood pressure. The aim of the research was to reduce the amount of people struggling with this challenge—and take some of the pressure off of a healthcare system that was weighed down with high blood pressure patients.
One celebrity who has publicly touted the benefits of the DASH diet, however, happens to be none other than Dr. Oz. In fact, Oz has devoted entire episodes of his show to discussing the DASH diet, which has been rumored to have been used by both Jennifer Hudson and Jessica Simpson. During these DASH diet episodes, Oz will bring in experts to create DASH-friendly recipes and include audience members in the discussion.
In many ways, though, the DASH diet is the unsung hero of the nutritional world. While other diets receive a great deal of fanfare, this one quietly works behind the scenes—with no red carpet reception necessary. However, the DASH diet continues to be recognized by newspapers tasked with selecting the best diet of the year. Unlike fad diets, the DASH diet is consistently honored each year—even though it’s already been out for over twenty years.
This low-key profile happens to be a bonus for DASH dieters, who will have no barriers whenever they decide it’s time to make a change. Whether you’re struggling with prehypertension or hypertension, it’s certainly much easier to just go on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website than it is to purchase high-priced books and CDs. Although the researchers who worked on the DASH study did so in order to help Americans lower their blood pressure, they had no way of anticipating the myriad of other conditions that were reduced or alleviated by this diet. With patients claiming that they’ve also lowered their cholesterol numbers—and even eliminated kidney stones—this simple diet is truly a miracle for those who have experienced its excellent benefits.
The facts speak for themselves—and the diet itself is absolutely free of charge? Dieters have nothing to lose when they try the DASH diet—except blood pressure points and maybe some weight. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to come up with another free diet plan that has helped to create so much wellness in the world. Although the plan originated in the U.S., it is now used all over the world to control blood pressure.
Amp Up Your Health Today—Don’t Walk, Dash to Begin Your DASH Diet!
When becoming healthy is your ultimate goal, it’s best to get on the DASH diet sooner rather than later. Bearing in mind that many Americans consume upwards of 4,000 milligrams of sodium per day, this diet will be quite an adjustment for some people. Two plans are offered—one for dieters who’d like their daily sodium levels to stay below 2,300 milligrams—and one for those who prefer to stay under 1,500 milligrams. Obviously, these are people who desire more dramatic results. You’ll want to discuss your particular plan with your doctor. Of course, patients who are in need of immediate results will probably want to follow the stricter plan. If you are truly concerned about your blood pressure numbers, the good news is that many DASH dieters report positive changes in just two weeks.
The main focus of the DASH plan is to remove unsavory saturated fats and other culprits from your diet. Those who are following a 2,100-calorie daily plan will want to consume 30 grams of fiber per day, in addition to making sure that saturated fat accounts for only six percent of their calories. Also, carbohydrates will make up 55% of the daily allotment, with potassium milligrams at 4,700 milligrams. Calcium and magnesium levels should also be relatively high, as healthy amounts of these elements have been known to keep blood pressure low.
However, you won’t have to keep meticulous track of these numbers in order to follow the plan. All you’ll need to do is download the plan and then adhere to the guidelines for daily fruit, vegetable, whole grain, dairy, nuts/legumes and meat servings. Oils, fats and added sugars will now be more like treats, as opposed to something that you include in every meal. Since the DASH diet website offers examples of what exactly will qualify as an example of each food group, all of the hard work is already done for you.
There are also several helpful tips included, such as ways to prepare your meat in accordance with the DASH diet. Although some people way want to dive right into the program headfirst, it’s also important to keep your limitations in mind. For instance, if you are someone who does not regularly consume a great deal of vegetables and whole grains, then you may want to ease into the diet slowly.
After all, dramatic alterations to your diet can cause digestion issues. If you experience constipation or bloating, then you’ll be less likely to stick to the plan. The ultimate goal is to transform your life so that you experience health and happiness. Since this is a lifestyle change, there’s no harm in starting the plan by eating more fruits and vegetables and then working your way up to the DASH requirements. Throw away your sugary sodas and the junk food cluttering your cupboards.
You’ll also want to remain vigilant about checking out the labels of any food products you purchase. Just because something doesn’t appear to have salt doesn’t mean that it won’t. In fact, many companies manage to sneak salt and sugar into foods—without the public even realizing it. This is just one of many reasons why the DASH diet puts more of an emphasis on eating foods that are not processed. When you eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains that have not gone through massive amounts of processing, it’s much more likely that they will not possess the hidden sodium that can lead to prehypertension and hypertension.
The DASH diet recommendations are sensible, common-sense solutions that can be made easily. For instance, the plan recommends substituting an apple for shortbread cookies and taking a close look at your condiments. You may be consuming a great deal of fat and salt without even realizing it. This is where the DASH diet can be truly miraculous; by cutting out sodium that you never even wanted in your diet in the first place, you’ll be making your entire life easier.
The DASH diet is all about keeping you off medication, which means that generalized physical activity recommendations are also made. If patients can do so, they are advised to do 30 minutes of brisk walking on a daily basis. Of course, with all other components of the plan, this can be altered based upon a DASH dieter’s current physical condition. Those who can’t do 30 minutes are told to start with 15 minutes or so, then work their way up.
In many ways, the DASH diet is truly a perfect program. Rooted in real science and research—and completely customizable—this plan offers excellent solutions for those battling hypertension and prehypertension. It’s also excellent for people who just want to lose weight and avoid such pitfalls in the future. And, best of all, it is completely free of charge. With all of these incredible benefits going for the DASH diet, it is truly in a league of its own. For people who want to change their health habits for the better without wasting time and money, the DASH diet is an extraordinary option that offers the ultimate reward—wellness.