dash diet

DASH Diet: Questions & Answers

Author: Anne Jonson

Diet & Nutrition Expert

For most of us, the goal of dieting is to shed excess pounds over the long term, lead a healthier lifestyle, and get back to exercise. But not all diets see weight loss as the greatest goal; many also help to minimize other health risks. The DASH diet is one of them because it aims to successfully support people with high blood pressure.

If you also suffer from high blood pressure and are interested in how you can counteract this condition simply by changing your diet, then this article is the right one for you. We explain exactly what the DASH diet is and for whom it is suitable. We’ll also give you tips on how to implement them successfully!

  • The DASH diet is not only used to shed excess pounds, but is also a successful way to help people with high blood pressure.
  • With this diet it is particularly important to avoid salt, sugar and fat. At the same time, the consumption of fruit, vegetables and whole grain products is particularly important.
  • The DASH diet is particularly easy to integrate into everyday life. It is not a crash diet, but should really lead to a long-term healthy lifestyle.

What is the DASH Diet?

The main goal of the Dash Diet is in its name: The acronym DASH means “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”. This means that there are nutritional strategies behind the diet, designed to lower high blood pressure.

High blood pressure has become a widespread disease that can arise from many different causes. On the one hand, this includes an unhealthy lifestyle, such as smoking, drinking alcohol and increasing consumption of table salt. On the other hand, other factors can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, such as being overweight and high cholesterol levels.

Not only are the causes of high blood pressure numerous, the consequences can also vary greatly. Increased blood pressure primarily causes vascular damage, which can possibly also lead to a stroke or a heart attack.

The DASH diet tries to help people lower their blood pressure through simple measures. These include, above all, a reduced intake of table salt and sugar. Whole grain products, fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, are welcome to be more on the menu.

What you need to know about the DASH diet

How does the DASH diet work?

The principle of the DASH diet is very simple. While you should avoid salty, sweet and fatty foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grain products and nuts can be consumed as the mood takes you. Even small amounts of lean meat and fish can easily be consumed on this diet.

Since a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in particular has positive effects on blood pressure, vegetables in particular are an important part of the DASH diet. It should even end up on the plate as part of every meal.

In this table we give you an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the DASH diet:

Advantages

  • Slow getting used to
  • Increased quality of life
  • Lowering the risk of illness

Disadvantages

  • Constant renouncement of salt, sugar and fat
  • Meals should be prepared by yourself

Who should do the DASH Diet?

The DASH diet is mainly aimed at people who suffer from high blood pressure and who want to get this under control by consciously changing their diet.

But the diet is not only suitable for patients who are already affected.

It is also useful for people who have a hereditary tendency to high blood pressure and who want to reduce the risk of actively developing it.

The DASH diet is not suitable for children and competitive athletes. People with low blood pressure should consult a doctor before starting the diet to clarify any deficiencies in micro and macronutrients.

What do I have to pay attention to with the DASH diet?

The most important criterion in the DASH diet is a low intake of salt. This is a maximum of 2.3 mg sodium, which corresponds to about a spoonful of table salt per day.

Since processed foods in particular have a high salt content, it is recommended not to add salt when cooking. The food will therefore appear a little bland in taste, especially at the beginning, but after a short time the taste buds get used to the low-salt food.

What should also be considered in the DASH diet is the renunciation or reduction of the consumption of alcohol and coffee. Both foods have effects on high blood pressure, and in order to get the full effect of the diet, they should only be consumed in small amounts.

Which foods should I avoid on the DASH diet?

In addition to finished products and particularly salty dishes
the following foods are avoided:

  • Red meat
  • Processed meat and sausage products
  • Dairy products with a high fat content
  • Fast food
  • Salted snacks
  • Sweets

What are the health effects of the DASH diet?

The most important health impact of the DASH diet is, of course, that it lowers blood pressure. Last but not least, a healthy diet also leads to a loss of body weight and a generally improved state of health, as well as more energy and quality of life.

Lower high blood pressure

A diet high in vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy products, and low in saturated fat has been shown to lower blood pressure. The DASH diet is based on these very approaches. If the diet is used successfully, the first positive results in lowering high blood pressure can be achieved after 6 months.

Lose weight

Although the primary goal of the DASH diet is to lower high blood pressure, changing your diet will also lead to improved quality of life and weight loss.

Since too many fruits, vegetables, low-fat foods and whole grain products are advised in the diet, the process of losing excess kilos is promoted with long-term implementation.

Due to its simple implementation, the diet can also be maintained in the long term and the typical yo-yo effect should be avoided.

How easily can I integrate the DASH diet into my everyday life?

Switching to the DASH diet may not seem easy, especially at the beginning, but it depends not least on the previous diet. For example, while giving up a lot of meat and sweets may be easy for some, it is particularly difficult for others.

The biggest hurdle in the diet, however, is the low salt consumption. Especially people who travel a lot and often rely on ready-made products often find it more difficult to control the actual salt intake. It is of course easier if you can prepare the meals for the day yourself.

Can I continue the DASH diet over a long time?

As soon as you have got used to the diet and it is no longer so difficult to avoid salt, sugar and fat, it is quite possible and advisable to continue the DASH diet over the long term.

The DASH diet is not intended as a crash diet in which one should lose a lot of weight in a short period of time. The diet is designed in such a way that it is easy to implement and can be easily integrated into everyday life.

It should contribute to a long-term increase in quality of life, while successfully reducing the risk of diseases caused by high blood pressure. The DASH diet should therefore not only be a temporary change in diet, but also become a new, healthy lifestyle.

DASH Diet: 5 Tips for Success

You now know about the basics of the DASH diet and you are now wondering how best to start the diet? Or have you already tried the DASH diet and still need a few simple tips to carry it out successfully?

We want to make it easier for you to get started with the DASH diet with 5 very simple tips. If you follow these recommendations, you will surely achieve the goals of the diet successfully!

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Tip 1: Cook without salt!

The most important basic rule of the DASH diet is a low-salt diet. You should also keep this in mind when cooking and prepare your meals without using table salt! Instead, just try using fresh herbs and other spices. Even if the meals seem bland and tasteless at first, your sense of taste will get used to the low salt content after a few weeks.

Tip 2: Reach for whole grain products and vegetables!

Whole grain products and vegetables are another basic component of the DASH diet. Whole-grain products are particularly easy to integrate into your meals, for example by replacing white bread with whole-grain bread, or by using oat flakes for breakfast.

Vegetables should make up around 50% of the diet at every meal. Simply take vegetables that you like and prepare them accordingly, then it will be easier for you to eat them too!

Tip 3: Steer clear of snacks and sweets!

Sweets and other snacks seem to be the perfect way of bridging the gap between main meals, in particular, to satisfy an emerging feeling of hunger.

With the DASH diet, sweet and salty foods are taboo.

The easiest way to overcome the temptation afterwards is to not buy any of them in the first place and instead have nuts and fresh fruit at home.

Tip 4: Start slowly with the change!

It is often not that easy to start new habits and then keep them constant. It usually seems much more difficult, especially when changing your diet.

The DASH diet is no different: if you are used to very salty and hearty food or if you have a weakness for sweets, it is very important to start slowly with the change. Otherwise you will only make your life unnecessarily difficult!

If you change your habits in small steps, you will not notice the change so much and you will be leading a healthier life in a few weeks!

Tip 5: Focus on a nutrition plan!

In theory, you know exactly what you can and can’t eat, but you find it difficult to implement? Then it is helpful if you orientate yourself on a nutrition plan! This will give you ideas and tips for meals that you can prepare.

Especially at the beginning it can be good if you stick to a nutrition plan for a few days to get a feel for what the DASH diet entails. You can easily find nutrition plans on the internet! Alternatively, you can collect your favorite recipes that are suitable for the diet and create your own personal plan.

Summary: Dash Diet

The DASH diet is a simple and, above all, long-term way to lead a healthy lifestyle. This not only lowers high blood pressure and the associated risks, but also increases the quality of life. If you follow the nutritional recommendations of the diet, you will notice as an additional effect that you will easily lose excess kilos.

Consequently, the DASH diet is for all those who want to lead a long-term healthy lifestyle through a healthy diet. You don’t have to do without a lot and consequently the diet can be easily integrated into everyday life. In conclusion, we can only make a clear recommendation for the diet, as it brings with it an energetic and healthy lifestyle!

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