Have you heard of the DASH diet, also called the DASH Eating Plan? Despite its fast-sounding name, the DASH diet isn’t a quick weight-loss solution. It actually stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. A panel of experts at the National Institutes of Health created DASH to help patients lower blood pressure, and found that it also worked well for weight loss, thanks to a few modern tweaks and adaptations.
What Is the DASH Diet?
Unlike fad diets and quick fixes, DASH isn’t a short-term, weight-loss solution but rather a long-term change in eating patterns. The DASH isn’t especially restrictive; it emphasizes all the foods you’re “supposed” eat: vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat or no-fat dairy, and lean protein. It eliminates all the foods you’re supposed to avoid: saturated fat, added sugars, and salt.
Who Can Benefit from the DASH Diet?
Although the DASH diet was developed to benefit people with hypertension, which includes an increasing number of Americans, it has proven to help reduce waistlines. Overall, the DASH diet is suitable for most people, with or without hypertension or a few extra pounds to lose. The practical aspects of DASH have made it a favorite with diet experts.
Although there are long and short versions of the DASH diet, it doesn’t include a lot of complex recipes, items to buy, or calorie restrictions. Also, unlike some diets that require a sudden or severe decrease in calories, you can ease into the DASH diet slowly by adding a serving of fruits or vegetables to your meal or going meat-free a couple of times a week.
Pros of the DASH Diet
Pros of the DASH diet include lowering blood pressure and decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. The DASH diet has the approval of many medical institutions and has been ranked as a top diet plan.
Cons of the DASH Diet
The DASH diet doesn’t have many cons unless you are looking for immediate weight-loss results. Although studies have found it very effective at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol within two weeks, weight loss can take a little longer.
Many diets come with extensive information in the form of recipes, premade foods, support groups and forums, and more. The DASH diet differs in that you are more or less on your own once you have figured out your calorie count for the day and the number of servings of each food group you need each day.
Some people find the DASH diet restrictive because it has no room for added sugar or excess salt.
It is important to keep in mind that the DASH diet is not meant to be followed for a short time period. It is meant as more of an overall guide to eating for life so that your blood pressure and cholesterol levels remain low. If you are interested in changing your eating habits, the DASH diet is worth exploring.