The DASH diet is based on NIH studies that examined three dietary plans and their results. None of the plans were vegetarian, but the DASH plan incorporated more fruits and vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy, beans, and nuts than the others studied. The diet reduced systolic blood pressure by 6 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg in patients with high normal blood pressure, now called “pre-hypertension.” Those with hypertension dropped by 11 and 6, respectively. These changes in blood pressure occurred with no changes in body weight. The DASH dietary pattern is adjusted based on daily caloric intake ranging from 1600 to 3100 dietary calories.
DASH diet and weight loss
The DASH diet is not designed to promote weight loss, but it can be used as part of an overall weight-loss strategy. The DASH diet is based on a diet of about 2,000 calories a day. If you’re trying to lose weight, though, you may want to eat around 1,600 a day. You may need to adjust your serving goals based on your health or individual circumstances — something your health care team can help you decide.
Dash Diet and Cardiovascular Diseases:
Tips to cut back on sodium
The foods at the core of the DASH diet are naturally low in sodium as indicated for cardiovascular diseases. So just by following the DASH diet, you’re likely to reduce your sodium intake. You also reduce sodium further by:
1.) Using sodium-free spices or flavorings with your food instead of salt
2.) Not adding salt when cooking rice, pasta or hot cereal
3.) Rinsing canned foods to remove some of the sodium
4.) Buying foods labeled “no salt added,” “sodium-free,” “low sodium” or “very low sodium”
5.) One teaspoon of table salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium, and 2/3 teaspoon of table salt has about 1,500 mg of sodium.
When you read food labels, you may be surprised at just how much sodium some processed foods contain. Even low-fat soups, canned vegetables, ready-to-eat cereals and sliced turkey from the local deli — foods you may have considered healthy — often have lots of sodium.
You may notice a difference in taste when you choose low-sodium food and beverages. If things seem too bland, gradually introduce low-sodium foods and cut back on table salt until you reach your sodium goal. That’ll give your palate time to adjust. It can take several weeks for your taste buds to get used to less salty foods.
DASH Diet and Diabetes
In people without diabetes, the DASH eating plan has been shown to help control blood pressure and lower risk for CVD and is frequently recommended as a healthful eating pattern for the general population. Limited evidence exists on the effects of the DASH eating plan on health outcomes specifically in individuals with diabetes; however, one would expect similar results to other studies using the DASH eating plan. In one small study in people with type 2 diabetes, the DASH eating plan, which included a sodium restriction of 2,300 mg/day, improved A1C, blood pressure, and other cardiovascular risk factors. The blood pressure benefits are thought to be due to the total eating pattern, including the reduction in sodium and other foods and nutrients that have been shown to influence blood pressure.
Putting the Pieces of the DASH Diet Together
Try these strategies to get started on the DASH diet:
Change gradually. If you now eat only one or two servings of fruits or vegetables a day, try to add a serving at lunch and one at dinner. Rather than switching to all whole grains, start by making one or two of your grain servings whole grains. Increasing fruits, vegetables and whole grains gradually can also help prevent bloating or diarrhea that may occur if you aren’t used to eating a diet with lots of fiber. You can also try over-the-counter products to help reduce gas from beans and vegetables.