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What is DASH Diet? Myths & Facts about DASH Diet

Introduction

The DASH Diet is a diet plan created to prevent or lower a person’s hypertension or high blood pressure. In fact, the DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

The DASH diet is more than the traditional diet that is low in salt or sodium. It is based on a well-balanced variety of foods, which include fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats and either low-fat or non-fat dairy. This diet plan limits a person’s consumption of salt.

The diet is more than a decade old, but it continues to remain popular. Many view this diet as complete and healthy. Compared to many other diets, this particular diet is higher in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and dietary fiber.

Hypertension Myths

Many people believe that the only way to control hypertension is by decreasing or eliminating salt intake altogether. This is not the case. High blood pressure is caused by an imbalance of sodium, potassium and magnesium in the diet. Eating a balanced range of foods can have a dramatic effect on one’s blood pressure. The key to reducing one’s risk to chronic diseases such as heart disease and hypertension is overall dietary intake as opposed to intake of any single nutrient.

People believe that 120/80 is normal blood pressure. Maybe this used to be the case—but it definitely is not the case today. Approximately 50% of the adult population and 80% of people over 50 years old have a blood pressure of at least 120/80. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute define healthy blood pressure as less than 120/80. Many national hypertension groups consider 120/80 to be the higher limit of optimal blood pressure. Blood pressures as low as 118/75 can cause strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

It is also commonly believed that it is natural to develop hypertension as one grows older. Hypertension can develop at any stage of one’s life. Blood pressure reduction is possible in all sub-groups of the population. This includes young adults and people without hypertension.

DASH Diet Facts

In the United States, one averages a salt intake of approximately 9 grams per day, which contains 3.5 grams of sodium per day. A sequential reduction of one’s daily sodium intake to 2.3 grams to 1.2 grams could lead to reductions in one’s blood pressure. Salt restriction combined with the DASH diet could lead to a great reduction in blood pressure.

An overweight person has two to six times more risk of hypertension compared to a person of a normal weight. Studies show that the DASH diet combined with regular exercise can improve up to 30% of an overweight adult’s mental ability, compared to an adult who does not diet or exercise.

The Diet Plan

Many people perceive this diet to be a very realistic one. This diet requires no special foods and does not consist of recipes that are hard to follow.

Grains are a major source of energy and fiber. A person on the DASH diet can enjoy as much as seven to eight servings of grains per day.

Vegetables are a rich source of magnesium, potassium and fiber. Someone on the DASH diet can enjoy four to five servings of vegetables a day.

Fruits are also a rich source of magnesium, potassium and fiber. The DASH diet suggests four to five servings of fruits a day.

Dairy supplies a person with calcium and protein. A person can enjoy two to three servings of low-fat dairy in a day.

Lean meat, poultry and seafood are rich sources of protein and magnesium. The DASH diet recommends an intake of two or less servings a day.

Beans, nuts and seeds are great sources of energy, magnesium, protein, potassium and fiber. A person can only consume one serving of beans, nuts and seeds per day. Ideally, one should only have four to five servings per week.

One is limited to two or three servings of fats and oils per day. As much as possible, try to choose foods that contain less fat.

The DASH diet recommends five or less servings of sweets a week. Try to choose sweets that are low in fat.

Of course, it is always best to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. One should make it a point to choose foods that are low in sodium and salt content. One should also maintain a healthy body weight with regular exercise and reduce any alcohol consumption.

About Author
This Article is written by Lena Butler, the author of TestCountry Articles a longer version of this article is located at What is DASH Diet? Myths & Facts about DASH Diet, and resources from other home health and wellness testing articles are used such as Diet DNA Test.

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