The DASH diet is not only very healthy but also does not require many sacrifices. Therefore, although described as medicinal, it is becoming more and more popular. The main purpose of the DASH diet is to support the circulatory system, but it has a beneficial effect on the whole body. Read what the DASH diet is all about – learn its principles and learn the effects and try the sample menu
What is DASH diet?
Doctors loved this diet for helping fight the scourge of hypertension, and patients for the variety of flavours and ease of use. Its great advantage is also that you don’t actually have to give up your favourite dishes (usually you just need to modify slightly healthy recipes a little), and meals are prepared quickly and for the whole family – all household members – from children, through adults and to seniors – can eat the same and get benefits from this.
The DASH diet is intended for people who love to eat because the daily menu consists of 3 main meals and as many as 4 snacks.
There is no specific duration of the DASH diet because by definition it is simply a healthier lifestyle. We eat 2000 calories a day, and if you want to lose weight – 1,500.
DASH diet principles
The guiding principle of the DASH diet is less salt and more unprocessed food. The diet recommends giving up white bread, cakes and pastries, and red meat. The secret to this nutritional treatment are products that contribute to regulating blood pressure, and by the way of insulin management (the risk of diabetes significantly decreases). They should appear on the daily menu even several times a day.
What do the creators of the DASH diet recommend?
Dietary fibre reduces blood cholesterol, improves digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, preventing high blood glucose. A portion is a slice of bread, 1/2 cup of cooked porridge, rice (preferably brown type of rice) or whole-grain pasta.
Vegetables and fruits are other important elements on the DASH diet. They are important because of vitamins, especially vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C. We can also find minerals there, especially potassium. Antioxidants reduce the number of free radicals in the body and protect against them including blood vessels. In turn, potassium increases the excretion of sodium from the body and lowers blood pressure.
You don’t have to give up dairy on a DASH diet. Milk and its low-fat preparations provide calcium, which is necessary for bone building and cardiovascular function. Its deficiency causes disorders of blood pressure and blood clotting. It is best to choose acidified milk, i.e. kefir and yoghurt, because they are better absorbed by the body, and thanks to which calcium is more easily absorbed. A portion of dairy is a small cup of plain yoghurt, 50 g cottage cheese (3% fat), a slice of cheese (max. 19% fat).
They are the best source of wholesome protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. Fish and seafood provide omega-3 fatty acids that lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and prevent blood clots. A portion is approx. 90 g meat or fish (you can cook, bake or grill it).
Almonds, nuts, seeds are an excellent source of beneficial for the circulatory system (but also for the brain) of EFA, fibre and potassium. Portions are small due to the high caloric content of two tablespoons of stones, 3-4 tablespoons of walnuts, 1/2 cup of cooked lentils.
DASH diet effects
Not medication, but tasty food, including the DASH diet, is the best way to get good blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Studies conducted on several hundred people have shown that the DASH nutrition program reduces systolic blood pressure by an average of 6 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg.
The first effects are visible after two weeks of using the diet. After a month, blood pressure is able to drop by up to 10 mm Hg. According to cardiologists, it is a few years of life as a gift.
Salt increases blood pressure. People on the DASH diet can only eat 2300 mg of sodium per day, i.e. half a teaspoon of salt. Lowering sodium intake in the diet to 1500 mg will give an even better effect. Just do not salt the dishes on the plate or when cooking e.g. pasta or vegetables.
The best, not only on the DASH diet, is water. If you reach for bottled, choose low-sodium. Herbal and fruit infusions and freshly squeezed juices are advisable (remember, however, to treat every 1/2 cup as a serving of vegetables or fruit, not just something to drink).