What is the Dash diet, and should you try it?

Diet trends come and go so quickly it can make your head spin. New research comes and stirs the pot, and the whole world seems to jump on the latest and greatest diet until the next study or celebrity hack is revealed, and the cycle continues. It’s rare that I ever become totally sold on any one diet at first glance, I like to take each bit of advice with a grain of salt. One thing that has reigned consistently true for all these diets, though, is that plant-based is best. What does this mean? It’s simply saying that if it was grown on good ol’ dirt, and not synthesized in a lab or mass-produced with fillers, preservatives and chemicals, you’re off to a good start. It’s as if all foods on earth were just created for our bodies, and us for them. Through the years, these diets have had a dueling effect of making us sharper and wiser in our food choices, honing in on what is truly good by getting a little better each go at it, and also by making us a little dizzy.

This brings me to the “Dash” diet. The simple meaning of the Dash diet is the “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension”. So, what is hypertension you may be wondering?  Simply put, it is “abnormally high blood pressure” and “a state of great psychological stress”. The Dash diet recognizes that our body undergoes a lot of stress both internally and externally, and sources foods to support our body in combatting and dealing with those stressors. By implementing certain foods in your diet, and avoiding others, the Dash diet claims to help the issue of hypertension and promote heart health. The Dash diet has piqued my interest most recently because it has more than just a claim to help someone “look good” or “lose weight”, but its focus is on the mental health of someone. Plus, it is plant-based. No matter what goals you try to accomplish in life, whether they are for professional, physical, emotional, or relational, I think we can all agree that our brain and mind first and foremost have to function optimally and be in good health for anything good to happen.

 Dash diet goes a little something like this:

  • Eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Eat fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
  • Limit foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets

Sounds pretty simple, right? Here’s a little breakdown of what it looks like:

Photo: UK Health Care

When on the Dash diet, it’s important to limit sodium and calorie intake, the NIH gives us a handy chart for reference.

Benefits of the Dash diet plan:

  • Studies have shown the Dash diet is effective in lowering blood pressure
  • Can improve heart health
  • Can lower bad cholesterol
  • Is a simple transition from the standard American diet

The Dash diet is an easy transition from the standard American diet because it doesn’t alter it so much by telling you to avoid dairy, meats, and grains like other popular diets do. It doesn’t alter your habits so much that you rebound and quit altogether. It simply encourages you to eat more fruits, veggies and whole grains, and limit the foods in the American diet that are known for causing disease, illness, weightgain, and hypertension.

Like any other diet, do your best to watch how your body responds, and keep it in conjunction with a healthy workout routine.

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