In under 10 minutes, you will know all the major points about the DASH diet.
If you’re serious about your health then you need to know about the DASH diet. Leading nutritionists have voted the Dash diet method number one seven times in a row.
In this guide, you will learn:
- What is the DASH DIET
- How does it compare to others like KETO
- How much salt can you have each day?
- What you can and can’t eat on the DASH Diet – including printable sheets
- Benefits of the DASH diet
- The Dash Diet in UK Measurements
Let’s get started.
What is the DASH diet?
D.A.S.H stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
Hypertension means having abnormally high blood pressure for an extended period of time, your blood pressure will fluctuate throughout the normal day and following the DASH diet helps to keep it in the healthy zone. Hypertension is thought to affect 1 in every 6 people worldwide.
In short, the DASH diet reduces sodium which is a major cause of various cardiovascular diseases.
It’s generally agreed that Hypertension (high blood pressure) is having a blood pressure of more than 140/90 mmHg for an extended period.
Dash diet is not as well known as other popular diets like Keto, Atkins etc even though it wins a lot of awards and can help support weight loss, diabetes and keep you healthy.
In my opinion, DASH is not a diet but a good eating healthy lifestyle or eating pattern with reduced-sodium as it’s not restrictive as other diets, and probably why the media is not that interested in reporting it because you probably won’t have weird smelling pee or anger management issues >
DASH is probably the most researched diet on the planet, with lot’s of studies since it was created 25 years ago when Hypertension was rising. Sustained hypertension can lead to a lot of cardiovascular diseases.
An estimated 2000 people die of heart disease every day in the United States. Yikes.
It was created by researchers backed by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). They managed to create a food lifestyle to prevent high blood pressure, and subsequently, the DASH also is very efficient at lowering blood cholesterol.
“The DASH diet is well thought of due to science-backed evidence that proves it works. It’s a diet that is effective in lowering blood pressure but also helps with weight loss too.” Priya Tew, Leading British dietitian and nutritionist.
Studies and Findings of the DASH diet
The Dash diet is the result of three dietary plans that were put together and tested by three groups over a four week period. (None were vegetarian plans back in the 1990s)
Over 400 people took part in the study, and the Dash diet reduced blood pressure in patients identified with high blood pressure and managed to reduce blood pressure with no weight loss.
In 2010 another study looked at the effect of the Dash diet and exercise. This regime reduced 16 points on systolic blood in under four months. – this is faster than the study above where people were not exercising.
Without exercise, DASH is an excellent choice for maintaining your body weight if you add exercise then you can also drop weight at impressive rates.
Awards for the DASH diet
The U.S. News & World is the Oscars of the diet world publishes a yearly Report annual diet rankings.
DASH ranked Best Diet Overall in
2010, 2011, 2012. 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018,
And in 2019…it came in 2nd after the Mediterranean diet (were they bored of DASH winning too much?)
That’s a pretty good run, why has it not caught on as much I wonder.
They rank eating plans/diets on the following criteria
- How easy it is to follow
- Likelihood of losing significant weight in the first 12 months
- Likelihood of losing significant weight for 2 years or more
- How well it helps prevent and manage cardiovascular disease
- How well it helps prevent and manage diabetes
- Nutritional completeness
It is super easy to follow and wins in nutritional completeness and healthy heart categories every year.
How expensive is the DASH diet?
The DASH diet shouldn’t increase your weekly food budget, in some cases, it can be more economical as you move away from processed foods although if you want organic produce it will increase your budget but probably lower your health costs in the long run.
Is it hard to maintain in restaurants?
This depends on the restaurant although after 4 weeks on the DASH diet you can treat yourself.
The number one reason I suspect is,
Not knowing what you can and can’t eat causes frustration
It requires planning, which once you try it is EASY.
Tips for eating out on DASH
“The typical meal at a chain sit-down restaurant contains about 2,100 mg of sodium for every 1,000 calories,” Harvard Health
Restaurants can pour lots of salt on to food as it can greatly enhance the flavour. Don’t be shy to ask for modifications – less salt, no salad dressing or a different kind.
Avoid starters as a rule of thumb is they are the most enhanced to pack in salt.
Restaurants can usually substitute chips for a salad if asked.
Smoked or cured foods are high in salt and should be avoided
Health Benefits of Dash
The DASH diet is great for overall health and works especially well for people with high blood pressure or diabetes. A lot of people now say that it’s common sense, but they are not thinking about the times a fire-breathing dragon couldn’t get in the way between you and the fridge and that all goes out the window.
As with every eating lifestyle, you need a plan.
If you are looking for an easy to adapt to eating lifestyle then DASH gets top marks for that and you won’t have to hunt down tiger nuts or avocado oil to make it work.
If you are looking to lose weight and keep it off then DASH is a solid choice with exercise as the idea is that you change your eating habits for good.
The Dash diet can also still include foods you love and be adapted for vegetarians.
The DASH diet compared to recommended guidelines
The NHS in the UK Eat well guide can be found here: NHS Eatwell Guide
For example, Pizza.
Pizza is very high in sodium although if homemade can be low in sodium so you have to make smart choices and plan out well.
They do recommend less processed foods which are a big factor for salt in foods.
They are heavy on grains and the Dash diet features less of this > I have some great food alternatives.
How much is too much salt?
The National Institutes of Health’s 2015-2020 dietary guidelines recommend consuming less than 2,300 mg of salt each day as part of a healthy diet.
The DASH diet creates a meal plan that should give you between 1500 – 1700mg of salt to help reduce high blood pressure.
Currently, people’s salt intake stands at 3,400mg per day which is eat on average eat more sodium than they should 33% more than they should, this builds up and causes health issues.
According to Google, there is approx. 2.325,5 mg in each teaspoon.
Is sea salt healthier than table salt? Because sea salt has larger salt crystals it may contain less sodium because fewer crystals fit on a teaspoon.
The Dash Diet Vs the Mediterranean diet
There is little difference in daily grains, fruit and vegetable servings although the Mediterranean diet recommends more fish per week and less red meat which can make it more expensive and more prep time
Personally, I think both are fairly similar options and will help you reduce hypertension, cardiovascular risk and improve your health.
How does the DASH diet compare to Keto?
Keto is all about eating high fat low carbs, if you just got a flashback of Dr Atkins Diet then I am not surprised. Keto is high fat, fewer proteins and an even lower amount of carbs. Doesn’t sound sustainable or enjoyable. Charity shops will stop accepting receiving so many copies in the years to come.
The DASH and Meditteranean diet are heavy on plants. Vegetables, fruits and eating red meat and fish and is a healthy lifestyle than a diet one week before you go on holiday.
This is what you eat on the DASH diet
When you dig deeper, you realize that the DASH diet has a couple of guidelines which help you stay on track.
The Dash plan is one of the first science-based diets with clear goals for you.
It’s also a great way to healthy eating as Dash has lots of variety in the food plan which helps you stay focused rather than attempting a fad diet. You can eat:
- Whole grains
- Lean red meat
- Low-fat dairy
Some smart changes can have a big effect, for example, think about switching your yoghurt choice to a Greek yoghurt which has less sugar than regular yoghurt.
You can make homemade pizza rather than buying in a shop, a health service investigation discovered some store-bought pizza is saltier than the sea.
Most of your salt intake is coming from food, not from you putting it on with a salt shaker – that’s why cutting microwave meals, cookies, salad dressings, fizzy drinks is the biggest step you can in reducing your sodium levels which should lower your blood pressure.
Yes, you can eat Eggs on the DASH diet
Eggs are a good source of protein and allowed on the DASH diet although don’t eat them every day
This is what you can drink on the DASH diet
Water is the best option, try adding lemon or lime if that helps. Soda water, tonic, herbal tea or coffee are good options.
You can drink alcohol although if you have high blood pressure or want to lose weight, it is best to stop for a while until you reach your goals.
The DASH diet and calories
While the Dash diet has shown in extensive research to help people lose weight on DASH especially with exercise it was designed to reduce salt, saturated fat and cholesterol intake to improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure.
Unlike a lot of the popular diets, the Dash diet includes a moderate amount of whole grains which give your body fuel and make you feel fuller.
You can pick the right amount of calories for your goals although I recommend having healthy snacks on hand so temptation doesn’t get the better of you.
Typical DASH diet recipes meals
I’ve kept these examples very simple to illustrate the point that you have a lot of variety still when planning your weekly shop.
Breakfast (200 calories)
This easy and quick breakfast is also one of my favourites as you can just put it all in a bowl and mix
- Greek yoghurt
- Chia seeds, (2 teaspoons)
- Olive oil, just a drop (optional),
- Fresh chopped apple or banana
Honey glazed salmon with greens and brown rice.
Cook the brown rice in a pan and start this first as it will take the longest.
Then boil or oven the greens, Broccoli is a great or asparagus are favourites of mine
Heat up a pan, add some olive oil, and add in the chopped garlic first and leave for a minute.
Add in the salmon and cook for 3-4 minutes. Put a tablespoon of honey at the side of the pan and when it melts, put it on the salmon.
Roasted vegetables with lemon and garlic. I love this meal and it’s as easy as 1,2,3.
I add in sweet potatoes, courgettes, beetroot, parsnips, asparagus, carrots. Try you will be delighted how simple and tasty this is. If you want to add more than you could also make some quinoa.
- Get all the vegetables you want to include and slice them up and place on an oven tray.
- Put some oil over them and garlic, I also like to add a little chilli.
- Roast them in the oven at 180c for approx 30mins and dinner is done.
What are the side effects of the DASH diet?
Your body needs sodium to regulate blood pressure which keeps your vital organs heart, liver, kidneys healthy and keep your muscle fibres working so do not cut it out. The DASH diet is focused on creating balance of salt your body needs.
How to start getting results
More than 70% of people get their salt intake from restaurants or processed food. A huge step to reducing your intake would be to cut back on eating out and buy fresh vegetables/fruit and meat to eat at home.
In just 14 days you will see dramatic changes to hypertension.
So now you know about the DASH diet and the attainable health benefits what is the one thing you could cut from your diet high in salt?