What are the Dash Diet Pros and Cons?
Hypertension is the most prevalent cardiovascular disease around the world, and a common cause of premature death, according to statistics just 1 out of 5 people with hypertension have it under control, which makes the problem even more serious. When hypertension is not under control it can lead to fatal complications such as heart stroke or aneurysm.
When we think about treating hypertension the first thing that comes to our mind is blood pressure drugs, but some other factors are underrated, such as having a healthy diet, losing weight, and doing exercise. The high prevalence of hypertension forced professionals to come up with a treatment plan that wouldn’t just cover medication, but also an overall change in the lifestyle. As a result of this need, the DASH diet was invented.
DASH stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension and is a diet specifically formulated to treat hypertension without medication. The original diet was published in 1997, the inspiration to create it came from the vegetarians and vegans, considering that they are less prone to suffer from hypertension and cardiovascular diseases in general.
Regardless of what people might think, the DASH diet is not just a diet trend that comes with no benefits at all and is just part of a big marketing strategy. There are studies that prove that the DASH diet can be as effective as blood pressure medication to treat hypertension. This type of diet can also work to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Pros of the DASH diet
- The main purpose of this day is to treat and prevent hypertension.
- In addition to treating hypertension, it can help you lose weight.
- Reduces the risk of cancer.
- Treats diabetes.
- Reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Improves insulin sensitivity.
- Lowers LDL cholesterol.
- It has a lot of scientific research.
- It is highly recommended by doctors.
- You don’t need to buy supplements.
- It is supported by the American Heart Association.
- It has been ranked as “number 1 diet” several times.
What does the DASH diet consist of?
- Low sodium food.
- Avoid high saturated fats and sugar.
- High potassium, magnesium, and fibre foods.
- Whole grains.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid fatty meats.
- Rich in non-fat dairy.
- Avoids refined and processed foods.
Gradually start to decrease the sodium level on your foods, start eating around 1 teaspoon a day (2400 mg) and then once you are adapted decrease the sodium intake to 2/3 of a teaspoon (1500 mg). Keep in mind that this amount is not only for the salt you add but also for the sodium level listed in all the products you buy.
Start to add vegetables to your meal at lunch and dinner.
Snack fruits, nuts, fat-free yoghurt, raisins or dried fruits, be careful that they don’t contain added sugar.
Use fat-free condiments.
Eat 6 to 8 portions of whole grains a day.
Start to decrease the intake of caffeine and alcohol.
Don’t expect to completely change your diet by day 1, this process will take you some time, but once you start to feel better and notice the benefits, you won’t want to stop.
Eat fish like salmon or tuna, they are a healthier alternative than red meats.
Cook with healthy oils like olive and avocado oil, avoid high saturated fat ones like coconut oils.
Cons of the DASH diet
Because nothing can be perfect. DASH diet is not for everyone. If you want to get into this diet keep these things in mind.
Is hard to maintain: DASH diet is kind of restrictive if we consider that you have to limit sodium and sugar, You might take a while before adjusting to it, and some situations are going to be difficult like eating out.
It is more expensive: Fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits are more expensive so, you might need to plan your budget and plan yourself to spend less.
You might need some help to plan the diet: Since this diet is not for everyone, I suggest you go to your doctor to get a personalized plan and resolve all the doubts and concerns you have about it. The doctor will also give you some helpful tips.
Lack of information: There is not a lot of information or resource tools on how to plan a DASH diet.
The weight loss won’t happen fast: Remember that this diet is primarily formulated to treat hypertension, so don’t expect to lose weight so fast, that is just a side benefit.
The food might feel flavourless to you: Due to the low levels of sodium and sugar, you might not like the way how the food taste, you will need to get creative in cooking and find healthy condiments to add to your meals.
Is not for everybody: If you tend to suffer from low blood pressure or low sodium levels, this diet is not the right one for you, it can lower your blood pressure, even more, causing some serious complications.
Eating too little salt has its downsides: It can increase fluid retention and insulin resistance.
Food tracking: You might need to measure the food and count the servings, not a really fun activity.
Final conclusion Is the DASH diet worth the try?
Entering to the DASH diet is not something easy to do, a lot of motivation and planning is needed, but is definitely worth the try. Every day approximately 1,000 people die from a high blood pressure complication, which is why action is needed to change this.
The DASH diet is not only meant to treat hypertension but also to prevent it, if you are at risk of suffering from hypertension (genetics, overweight, high-fat diet, etc) consider changing to this diet, your body will thank you for it. This type of diet also works wonders for people that suffer serious side effects from blood pressure drugs or is not economically able to buy the medication. If you are considering becoming vegan or vegetarian this diet might be a good start point considering that it reduces the intake of meat.
Want to get the best out of this diet? Go regularly to your doctor, he or she will be your new best friend on this process of adapting to the diet, start exercising, this will boost the benefits of the diet, and keep anxiety and stress away. ¡Health comes from inside out!
What do you think is the best pro of the Dash diet?