The DASH, diet has been consistently ranked by US News & World Report as a top diet for heart health and weight loss, and it’s no surprise why. According to the National Health Institute, the DASH diet scores 3.3 points out of 5 in the “Weight Loss Effectiveness” category and 4.5 points out of 5 in the “Health Usefulness” category.
What is the DASH diet?
DASH is a shortcut for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The diet was developed specifically to help people lower high blood pressure (hypertension). But later, scientists understood that this diet resolves many other important problems including reduction of cholesterol levels, prevention of stroke and heart failure, and weight normalization. What is more, this diet is the best diet to prevent diabetes.
What’s the concept of the DASH diet?
All of the essential components (proteins, calcium, vegetable fiber) that are responsible for the functioning of the internal organs, the brain, as well as hair and skin health, are balanced in this diet.
Plus, you don’t have to monitor and calculate each component. You just need to eat certain recommended products such as fruit, vegetables, protein-containing foods, grain products, and dairy products.
Meanwhile, the plan requires reducing or preferably eliminating, processed foods, like sugary drinks and packaged snacks, limiting red meat, which in excess has been linked to poorer heart health and heart failure, and lower the amount of salt in dishes.
It’s not about the quantity of the food as much as it is about its quality. Here are some main principles you should follow:
- Drink 2 liters (67 fl oz) of fluid per day.
- Eat 5 times per day. One serving’s weight should be no more than 215 g (8.80 oz).
- Daily calorie intake: around 2,000-2,500 kcal.
- Sweets: no more than 5 times a week.
- Try to eat more cereals, seeds, beans, lean meat, and vegetables.
- You should avoid drinking soda or alcohol.
- You can have no more than 8 snacks per day (in addition to basic meals.) But have a bite only if you’re really hungry.
- Alcohol and tobacco are prohibited.
- Reduce salt and consume up to 2-3 teaspoons per day.
- Your diet should include whole wheat bread.
- Exclude smoked or fatty foods, pickles, pastry, canned fish, and meat.
What you can eat
In order to form a proper DASH diet, you should mind your goals; whether you want to lose weight or to become healthier. If you want to lose some weight, your menu should contain fewer calories. In other words, you need to reduce the servings.
Your daily diet may contain the following products:
- Grains – 7 servings
- Fruit – 5 servings
- Protein – 200g (7oz)
- Vegetables – 5 servings
- Dairy products – 2-3 servings
- Fluids – 2l (67 fl oz)
- Seeds, beans, nuts – 5 servings
- Animal and vegetable fats – 3 servings
What to avoid:
Of course, you have to avoid all of the typical “unhealthy” products.
- Fast food and chips
- Smoked and canned food, salami
- Fatty meat
- Candies, cookies, other sweets
How to plan your diet
You don’t need to do anything special; you just need to stick to the recommended foods and avoid the forbidden ones. Cut down your servings if you’re planning on losing weight, and follow the ground rules of the DASH diet.
Here’s a typical meal on the DASH diet:
- 3 ounces of turkey meatloaf
- 1 small baked potato topped with 1 tablespoon each of fat-free sour cream and low-fat cheese, and a chopped scallion
- 1 small whole-wheat roll
- Cooked spinach
- 1 peach
The DASH diet is an easy, safe, and useful diet that can help you feel better and get rid of excess weight.
Such a diet provides the necessary amount of microelements and vitamins to your body and there are no time frames for you to follow this diet. You can lose weight smoothly and without experiencing hunger or sudden fluctuations in weight. And this means that your body won’t be stressed.