in ,

The DASH Diet: Everything You Need To Know (7-Day Meal Plan Included!)

The overall goal of the DASH Diet — short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — is to lower your consumption of sodium, which aids in lowering your blood pressure.

crispy-skinned-barramundi
00


Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, has been voted as the best overall diet for several years in a popular survey. The DASH program was developed by a panel of experts at the National Institutes of Health to help Americans lower their blood pressure, but as it turns out, it is also effective at weight loss as well.

What is the DASH diet?

Grilled salmon with a honey glaze on a bed of lambs lettuce

 

The DASH diet emphasizes foods rich in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium and low in saturated fat, sugar and salt. On your plate, that looks like plenty of fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, fish, poultry, whole grains and low-fat dairy, with fewer fatty meats and sweets. Although DASH is not a reduced-sodium diet, lowering sodium intake by eating whole foods over processed foods enhances the diet’s effect.

The original trial of the DASH diet showed reductions in both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure across subgroups of gender, race and ethnicity and in hypertensive and pre-hypertensive patients. Further studies have found that adherence to the DASH diet lowered total and LDL cholesterol, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke even throughout several years of follow-up, and reduced bone turnover, improving bone health.

According to the NHLBI, the daily Dash Eating Plan also involves, on average:

  • 6 to 8 servings of grains, preferably whole grains
  • 6 or fewer servings of meat, poultry, and fish
  • 4 to 5 servings of veggies
  • 4 to 5 servings of fruit
  • 2 to 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products (fat-free if watching weight, like with diabetes)
  • 2 to 3 servings of fat or oils (preferably healthy fats)

Here are some of the other daily nutritional goals of the DASH diet plan:

  • Total fat is 27 percent of calories
  • Saturated fat is 6 percent of calories or less
  • Protein is 18 percent of calories
  • Carbohydrates are 55 percent of calories
  • Cholesterol is limited to 150 mg
  • Fiber is 30 grams (g) or more

Depending on weight loss or weight maintenance needs, you can choose a DASH diet plan that provides 1,200, 1,400, 1,600, 1,800, 2,000, 2,600, or 3,100 calories per day.

Calculate your TDEE and choose the one that’s fairly close to your TDEE. This will ensure you lose weight while reaping all the benefits of the DASH diet.

[Related: PCOS Weight Loss Guide! (Calculator Included)]

How Does the DASH Diet Work?

The DASH diet works by limiting not only salt, but also saturated fat and cholesterol — both of which can contribute to heart disease — and by increasing foods that provide fiber, protein, and other nutrients thought to help lower blood pressure.

Also important to note is people who want to lower their blood pressure should combine the diet with other healthy lifestyle approaches to managing hypertension, such as getting more exercise, losing weight, and cutting back on alcohol consumption. Quitting smoking is also crucial for lowering blood pressure and maintaining good heart health.

Who Should Follow the DASH Diet?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the DASH eating plan as a model for healthy eating for everyone! The whole family can enjoy the DASH diet. And of course, the DASH diet was developed to help people lower their blood pressure. It provides additional heart health benefits, lowering cholesterol and inflammation. New research shows that it is effective in lowering blood pressure in children as well as adults. In Short, anybody who’s looking to lose weight and live a long and healthy life can follow DASH diet.

How To Get Started?

Dietitian Marla Heller’s version of the DASH Diet, from her book The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution, is divided into two phases:

Phase 1: Two Weeks to Shrink Your Waistline

During the 14 days of Phase 1, you will learn how to satisfy your hunger and, as a result, feel fuller longer. To regulate your blood sugar and help curb your cravings, avoid fruit and whole grains, which have a lot of natural sugar, and alcohol, which also contain sugars. That said, you can enjoy 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy per day. This would include 1 cup of skim milk or low-fat yogurt. Avoid regular or even fat-free cheese because they are often high in sodium.

By avoiding starchy foods with sugar, you’re helping to regulate your blood sugar and diminish cravings. Try leafy greens like lettuce and spinach or cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cabbage. You can also eat cucumbers, squash, peppers, and tomatoes.

You can also enjoy up to 6 ounces of lean meats, fish, and poultry a day. Aim for 4 to 5 servings of beans or lentils a week.

Opt for protein-rich foods that have healthy fats, like fresh nuts and seeds, or fatty fish like salmon or mackerel. Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats as well as antioxidants lutein, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Toss them in a salad along with vegetable oils, especially olive, canola and nut oils, which you can use as salad dressing.

[Related: Ketogenic Diet: Everything You Need To Know!]

Phase 2: Kick It Up a Notch!

After the first 14 days, you will continue to eat the foods from Phase 1 but re-introduce some other healthy foods that will help you continue your weight loss. How long does Phase 2 last? It’s your life plan, so it should last forever so you can keep your blood pressure low and keep weight off.

Whole Grains: Choose from cereals, breads, and pasta. Aim for 6 to 8 servings a day.

Fruit: Make fruit (fresh or frozen) a part of your diet every day. Aim for 4 to 5 servings a day. Try making these low-sugar fruits part of your diet.

Low-Fat Milk or Yogurt: Stick to 2 to 3 servings a day as in Phase 1.

Sugar: You can have 3 to 4 servings of sugary foods each week.

Alcohol: You can have a small glass of red wine occasionally, which represents one fruit serving.

Below you can see a week’s worth of meals! Phase 1 has 3 sample days, and Phase 2 has 4 sample days.

 

DASH Diet Sample Meal Plans

Phase 1: Two Weeks to Shrink Your Waistline

Day 1

Breakfast
  • Hard-boiled egg. (Hint: Make several hard-boiled eggs, and peel. Store in a zipper bag in the refrigerator. Then you will have them when you need them for super-quick breakfasts. You can also find prepackaged, peeled hard-boiled eggs in some stores).
  • 1 or 2 slices Canadian bacon
  • 6 ounces tomato juice, low-sodium
Midmorning Snack 
  • 1 stick light cheese
  • Baby carrots
More: Grasp the DASH Diet in 5 ClicksLunch
  • Quinoa Meatless Balls
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Small side salad: dressed with Italian or oil and vinegar dressing
  • Strawberry Jell‑O cup, sugar-free
Midafternoon Snack
  • 4 ounces lemon light yogurt, fat-free, artificially sweetened
  • 18 cashews (1 ounce by weight, 1/4 cup by volume, or small handful)
Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)
  • Pepper strips. (Hint: To make the strips quickly, cut off the tops and bottoms of some red, yellow, or orange bell peppers. Remove seeds and cut in half. Flatten each half and take a very sharp knife and cut along the surface, removing the membranes. Then cut into 1‑inch strips. These are great to dip into guacamole, as a chip substitute).
  • 2 ounces guacamole, which is about 1/4 cup
Dinner
  • Mediterranean-Style Chicken Kabobs
  • 1 cup (or more) mixed carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower blend: steamed or microwaved
  • Salad: Romaine blend with Italian dressing
  • Raspberry Jell‑O cup, sugar-free

Day 2

Breakfast
  • Mini-Egg Beaters Southwestern Style omelet. Spray microwave-safe dish or cup with cooking spray. Add 1/4-1/2 cup Egg Beaters Southwestern Style. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir, and cook an additional 15 seconds.
  • 4-6 ounces tomato juice, low-sodium
Midmorning Snack
  • 1 light cheese wedge
  • 6 grape tomatoes
Lunch
  • 2-3 Turkey-Swiss roll-ups. Cheese on the outside, as the wrap. Deli turkey slices for the meat. Add whatever condiments you like, such as mustard. You could also add lettuce as the outermost layer of the wrap.
  • 1/2-1 cup coleslaw
  • Raw snow peas or sugar snap pea pods (as much as you like)
  • Orange Jell‑O cup, sugar-free
Midafternoon Snack
  • 1 stick light cheese
  • Baby carrots
Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)
  • 10 peanuts in the shell (20 individual peanuts) (Hint: Shelling nuts slows you down, so you are less likely to overeat them.)
Dinner
  • Roasted sliced turkey
  • Sautéed carrots and onions. Sauté 1 medium onion, thinly sliced, in 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil. Add about 8 ounces sliced carrots, and continue to sauté until the carrots are soft. Add 1 thin pat of butter at the end. (Hints: Top the turkey with the sautéed carrots for extra flavor. If you like very soft carrots, microwave first before sautéing.)
  • Side salad topped with Italian dressing
  • Lime Jell‑O cup, sugar-free

Day 3

Breakfast
  • Scrambled eggs
  • 1-2 slices Canadian bacon
  • 4-6 ounces diet cranberry juice
Midmorning Snack
  • 4 ounces raspberry light yogurt, nonfat, artificially sweetened
  • 23 almonds (1 ounce by weight, 1/4 cup by volume)
Lunch
  • Cold fried chicken breast (don’t eat the skin or coating). Hint: The chicken doesn’t have to be cold. This could be a fast-food lunch but only if you can choose whole chicken parts. (Definitely do not choose chicken tenders, patties, crispy chicken, or nuggets. They have too much breading for the amount of meat.) Most fried chicken places have coleslaw as a side. When you get back to your office, you can have the carrots and Jell‑O.
  • Coleslaw
  • Baby carrots
  • Lemon Jell‑O cup, sugar-free
Midafternoon Snack
  • 1-2 light cheese wedges
  • 6 grape tomatoes
Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)
  • Pepper strips
  • Guacamole
Dinner 
  • Turkey Burger
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • Side salad with balsamic dressing
  • 1-2 strawberry Jell‑O cups, sugar-free

Phase 2: Kick It Up a Notch!

Day 1

Breakfast
  • 3/4 cup Wheaties (1 ounce by weight)
  • 8 ounces skim milk
  • 4-6 ounces strawberries or raspberries
Midmorning Snack (Optional)
  • 1-2 light cheese wedges
  • Grape tomatoes
Lunch 
  • 2-3 turkey and Swiss roll-ups
  • Baby carrots
  • Small plum
Midafternoon Snack
  • 6 ounces blueberry light yogurt
  • 10 cashews
Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)
  • 10 peanuts in the shell (20 individual peanuts)
Dinner
  • Pan-seared tilapia. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook about 4 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Before finishing, place about 1 pat of butter or margarine in the pan, and allow the melted butter to coat all the pieces. (To serve four, choose four 4‑ounce tilapia filets.)
  • Mango-Melon Salsa
  • Fresh asparagus
  • Strawberry Jello‑O cup, sugar-free

Day 2

Breakfast
  • Hot chocolate. To 8 ounces skim milk, add 1 heaping teaspoon unsweetened cocoa and 2 packets Splenda or Truvia.
  • 1-2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 6-8 ounces light cranberry juice. Hint: Light cranberry juice has more calories than the diet version, but you may prefer it.
  • 4-6 ounces strawberries
Midmorning Snack (Optional)
  • 6 ounces key lime light yogurt, nonfat, artificially sweetened
  • 10 ounces almonds
Lunch
  • Turkey and Swiss sandwich. Put 2-4 ounces turkey and a slice of reduced-fat Swiss cheese on two pieces light whole wheat bread; add lettuce, tomato, and any other veggies or condiments that you choose.
  • Pepper strips
  • Coleslaw or side salad
  • Raspberry Jell‑O cup, artificially sweetened
Midafternoon Snack
  • 1 clementine orange
  • 1-2 light cheese wedges
Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)
  • Pepper strips
  • 1/4-1/2 cup hummus
Dinner
  • Vegetable Stir Fry with Quinoa
  • Side salad, with Italian, oil and vinegar, or vinaigrette dressing
  • Fudge bar

Day 3

Breakfast
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, cooked: topped with cinnamon, Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, or Truvia, and 1 tablespoon chopped almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 banana, medium or large
  • 4-6 ounces tomato juice, low-sodium
  • Latte: 8 ounces skim milk, 2 ounces espresso
Midmorning Snack (Optional)
  • 1 stick light cheese
  • Baby carrots
Lunch
  • Three-Bean Kale Saute with Brown Rice
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Orange Jello‑O cup, artificially sweetened
Midafternoon Snack
  • 4-6 ounces strawberries
  • 10 cashews
Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)
  • 10 peanuts in the shell (20 individual peanuts)
Dinner
  • White Bean and Cabbage Soup
  • Green beans
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Side salad, with Italian dressing
  • 4-6 ounces raspberries on 1/2-1 cup frozen yogurt, nonfat, artificially sweetened

Day 4

Breakfast
  • 1-3 scrambled eggs
  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast (light, if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon jelly or jam
  • 4-6 ounces orange juice
  • Latte or 8 ounces skim milk
Midmorning Snack (Optional)
  • 4-6 ounces blueberries
  • 10 almonds
Lunch
  • 2-3 Muenster cheese and roast beef roll-ups. (Hint: Accessorize per your taste. You could add lettuce for the wrap and stuff with grated carrots or red cabbage in the center.)
  • Italian coleslaw (Hint: This is regular coleslaw with thin pepper strips, grated carrots, and an oil and vinegar dressing.)
  • Small peach
Midafternoon Snack
  • 6 ounces strawberry light yogurt, nonfat, artificially sweetened
Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)
  • Baby carrots dipped in 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Dinner
  • Salmon Stuffed Avocado
  • Side salad: Lettuce, grape tomatoes, red cabbage and blue cheese crumbles or small slice of goat cheese, with oil and vinegar or vinaigrette dressing.
  • Fudge bar or other low-calorie, low-sugar, low-fat ice cream bar

 

Pros of the DASH Diet

  • Cost: A benefit is that the DASH eating plan is free and accessible.Unlike commercial eating programs, everything you need to learn the program is available online free-of-charge. The food you eat can be easily found at any grocery store and aren’t necessarily expensive foods.
  • Flexibility: DASH diet plans are available for calorie levels 1,200, 1,600, 2,000, 2,600 and 3,100, so it is easy to choose the level that will produce steady weight loss depending on your starting weight and gender. As you lose weight and transition to a lifelong eating pattern, you can use the plans for the appropriate calorie level for maintenance.
  • Health: You will enjoy research-proven health benefits in lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol by following this diet.
  • Nutrition: With the DASH diet, you will be eating the foods everyone recommends for good nutrition and avoiding empty calories and overly processed foods.
  • Backed By Major Health Organizations: The DASH diet is endorsed by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the USDA.

Cons of the DASH Diet

  • Lack of Convenience: Because this is not a commercial diet, you won’t get pre-packaged foods delivered to your door. You can’t go to the freezer section of your local market and get meals that are already cooked. This diet takes some work.
  • Not Specifically Designed for Weight Loss: While you can follow one of the lower-calorie target plans of the DASH diet, the primary emphasis is not on weight loss.
  • Support: If you find that you do best in a program that includes regular meetings, social support, and check-ins, you will have to seek those out on your own.

The Potential Short- and Long-Term Effects of the DASH Diet

Research shows the DASH diet can help lower blood pressure at least in the short term, but longer studies will be needed to determine whether the DASH diet will translate to lower rates of heart disease for those who stick with it over the long term.

That said, for many, the DASH diet is the perfect one-two punch: a sensible diet for keeping blood pressure levels in check and for losing pounds or maintaining a healthy weight.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

7 Yoga Poses to Burn Belly Fat

Bulletproof coffee

Bulletproof Coffee: Everything You Need To Know (Recipe Included!)