The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, known as the DASH diet, is a diet that was designed to help reduce blood pressure. It is based on the Food Pyramid released by the USDA. However, you may be wondering if the DASH diet is effective for weight loss. We’ll take a quick look at the DASH diet and see if it gives dieters any tools to help them lose weight.
The DASH diet works by providing a diet plan that you see every day: the USDA Food Pyramid. Based loosely on this diet plan, the DASH diet recommends a diet of low-sodium, low-fat, high fiber and lots of vegetables. Here’s a breakdown of the types of foods recommended by the DASH diet:
- Grains. The DASH diet recommends at least 6 to 8 servings of grains each day. It suggests more whole grain than refined grain, due to its high fiber content. Examples of whole grains would be whole grain bread, brown rice and brown pasta.
- Fruits and vegetables. This is usually the hardest part for most people on the Standard American Diet (known as SAD to many) since most Americans eat only 2 to 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The DASH diet recommends 4 to 5 servings of each! Vegetables are not only full of fiber, but they contain a lot of important vitamins and minerals that are known to reduce blood pressure.
- Dairy. This is not an important staple of the DASH diet, which limits it to 2 or 3 servings each day. The reason behind this is that many dairy products are not only high in saturated fats, but also in sodium.
- Meat and fish. The leaner the meats, the better. The important thing to remember about meat is portion control. A serving size is much smaller than the typical serving in most American’s meals. While the DASH diet allows up to 6 servings of lean meats, a serving size is only about 1 oz.
- Nuts and seeds. These treats are high in fat and calories. However, they contain good fats important for the body in addition to vitamins and minerals that can help lower blood pressure. The DASH diet recommends these, but only 4 to 5 servings per week, not per day.
While the purpose for the DASH diet is to reduce blood pressure, many dieters find that they lose weight, too. How effective the DASH diet is for weight loss depends on how different the diet is from your current one. Because you will be eating less harmful fats and more vegetables, weight loss will usually occur. However, the DASH diet is based on a 2000 calorie diet, and so if you plan to lose weight on this diet, you may need to reduce your daily calorie intake to around 1600 or less. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist if you believe that the DASH diet can help you with both your blood pressure and weight loss goals.