What’s the DASH diet?


MNT Knowledge Center

The DASH diet was promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for patients with hypertension to control their blood pressure. U.S. News & World Report ranked the DASH diet as number 1 in January 2013.

DASH means Nutritional Methods to Stop Hypertension.

What is the DASH diet?

People around the DASH diet eat plenty of fruits, veggies, wholegrain, low-fat dairy meals, in addition to chicken, fish, meat, nuts and beans. The amounts of added fats, steak, and sugar-laden drinks and meals are stored low.

The DASH diet concentrates on portion size, consuming a multitude of meals and acquiring proper levels of nutrients.

The designers from the DASH diet state that it’s not only made to bring lower high bloodstream pressure, but is another well-balanced method of eating for a lot of people. The DASH diet encourages the dieter to eat less sodium (salt) while increasing his/her consumption of magnesium, calcium and potassium, to be able to help lower bloodstream pressure.

Actually, the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) stands out on the DASH diet being an ideal eating plan1 for those People in america.

Scientists in the NIH (National Institutes of Health) checked out three nutritional plans and just how effective these were. Not one of them were vegetarian diets, however the DASH plan added a lot more fruits and veggies, in addition to low-fat or non-fat dairy, beans, nuts along with other healthy meals.

The NIH states the DASH plan includes even more than marketing good eating routine. Participants can be found suggestions on healthy options to “unhealthy foods”, and encourages dieters to steer clear of processed meals.

The NIH even printed a magazine, known as “Your Best Guide to Cutting your Bloodstream Pressure With DASH”2, which supplies helpful info on popular mainstream food products, in addition to their healthy options. It includes examples of diet plans as well as their dietary values. In the finish from the book, visitors can easily see a summary of sources and just how to call them.

How effective is the DASH diet?

Research printed in Hypertension3 says patients with pre-hypertension who adopted the DASH diet plan experienced a typical drop of 6 mm Hg in systolic bloodstream pressure and three mm Hg in diastolic bloodstream pressure.

Patients with hypertension experienced reductions of 11 mm Hg in systolic bloodstream pressure and 6 mm Hg in diastolic bloodstream pressure.

These reductions in bloodstream pressure occured with no alterations in bodyweight. Usage of calories around the DASH nutritional pattern varies from 1,699 to three,100.

Research printed in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes discovered that the DASH diet cuts down on the 10-year chance of cardiac arrest, especially among African-People in america.

However, scientists at Duke College discovered that that African People in america are less inclined to adopt the DASH diet than Caucasians.

Why was the DASH diet created?

Hypertension is a growing concern in the united states over the past half a century. Based on the NHLBI (National Heart, Lung and Bloodstream Institute)4, high bloodstream pressure is connected having a considerably and the higher chances of developing cardiac arrest, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease.

For patients aged from 40 to 70 years, for each rise of 20 mm Hg in systolic BP (SBP) or 10 mm Hg in diastolic BP (DBP), the chance of a coronary disease doubles. US health government bodies state that over 1 / 2 of all People in america with hypertension have poor bloodstream pressure control.

Because the incidence of hypertension in the united states increased, the NIH suggested funding to determine which impact nutritional designs may have on bloodstream pressure. The NHLBI liaised carefully with five well-known scientific research centers in numerous US metropolitan areas to handle the biggest and many detailed study ever – it had been known as “The DASH study”.

Based on “Your Best Guide to Cutting your Bloodstream Pressure With DASH”2, DASH would be a randomized controlled trial, concerning groups of nutritionists, nurses, doctors and research coordinators. Participants were employed to get familiar with the next research centers – Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Or, Johns Hopkins College in Baltimore, Maryland, Duke College Clinic in Durham, New York, and Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Two DASH tests were transported out – their goal ended up being to see what effects the nutritional program might have on bloodstream pressure. NIH described the tests as multi-center, randomized, outpatient feeding studies. The designers from the DASH diet stated that it’s according to meals which are traditionally consumed to ensure that participants may abide by it easily.

The very first DASH study began in August 1993 and survived before the finish of This summer 1997. Preliminary results shown that top use of certain minerals and fiber were associated with a stop by bloodstream pressure. The dietary focus from the DASH diet plans took it’s origin from thing about this study.

The research in comparison two experimental diets having a “control diet”:

  • Fruits and vegetables diet – it was high in fruit and vegetables, but was otherwise similar to the typical American diet at the time, however, with fewer snacks and sweets. Magnesium and potassium levels were similar to the 75th percentile of US consumption. Fiber content was high.
  • The DASH diet – high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Overall fat and saturated fat levels were low, while fiber and protein levels were high. It was rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts. Consumption of red meat, sweets and sweetened drinks were low.

These two diets were compared to a third diet:

  • The control diet – this was similar to the typical American diet at the time, with low levels of fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium, and high levels of fat and protein.

The DASH diet was targeted at supplying nutrients which may reduce bloodstream pressure and took it’s origin from past studies. Within the DASH study, nutritional designs were examined, instead of single nutrients. The DASH diet also contained a higher proportion of meals wealthy in antioxidants, that have been (but still are) considered to assist in preventing or delay the introduction of several chronic health issues, for example cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer.

The scientists screened 8,813 people for that study, who 459 were eventually selected as participants. Participants comprised of healthy males and women aged (average) 46 years, with systolic bloodstream pressure of under 160 mm Hg and diastolic bloodstream demands within 80 to 95 mm Hg.

As hypertension affects many minority groups disproportionately, the scientists targeted to make certain they constituted two-thirds from the target sample (participant population). 49% from the participants were female.

The participants were at random selected to follow along with among the three diets pointed out above for any periods of 8 days. Their bloodstream demands were checked regularly through the study.

The DASH study results

The DASH trial demonstrated that eating designs can impact bloodstream pressure patients with moderate to severe hypertension. The minority-group participants around the DASH diet experienced really important reductions in bloodstream pressure, in comparison to individuals around the control diet.

Individuals within the fruit and veggies group also experienced reductions in bloodstream pressure, although they were modest as compared to the leads to the DASH group.

The participants around the DASH diet who began off without hypertension experienced reductions within their bloodstream pressure. Bloodstream pressure versions among this group alternatively two diets were less noticeable.

The study showed that participants with hypertension on the DASH diet saw falls in blood pressure within two weeks of starting their diet.

Sodium levels in the DASH diet

One of the principal objectives of the DASH diet is to get participants to reduce their sodium intake. Sodium can raise blood pressure in sensitive people. Hence, there are two versions of the DASH diet:

  • The Standard DASH diet – the dieter can consume up to 2,300 mg of sodium each day
  • The Low Sodium DASH diet – the dieter can consume up to 1,500 mg of sodium each day

In traditional diets, people can consume up to 3,500 mg of sodium each day, and often more. Both DASH diet versions aim to reduce sodium consumption. The US government advises its people to limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300 per day.

Studies have demonstrated that lower sodium consumption has an especially beneficial effect on blood pressure levels on people aged over 40 years, as well as African-Americans with hypertension.

What is included in the DASH diet?

The DASH diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains, as well as some legumes, poultry and fish, plus small amounts of read meat, fats and sweets. It is low in saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol.

Below is what a typical 2,000 calorie-per-day DASH diet may consist of:

  • 6 to 8 daily servings of grains – including pasta, rice, cereal and bread. One serving could be a slice of whole-wheat bread, ½ cup of cooked pasta, rice or cereal, or 1 oz of dry cereal.
  • 4 to 5 servings of vegetables – these may include fiber- and vitamin-rich vegetables, including broccoli, sweet potatoes, greens, carrots or tomatoes. One serving could be ½ a cup of raw or cooked vegetables, or 1 cup of leafy green vegetables (raw).
  • 4 to 5 servings of fruits – these are rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamins and other minerals. One serving may include ½ cup of fresh, canned or frozen fruit, or 1 medium fresh fruit.
  • 2 to 3 servings of low-fat dairy – major sources of calcium, protein and vitamin D include cheese, yogurt and milk. For the DASH diet to work, these dairy products must be either low-fat or fat-free. One serving could include 1 cup of skim or 1% milk, 1.5 oz of cheese, or 1 cup of yogurt.
  • Up to 6 servings of fish, poultry or lean meat – even though meats are rich in proteins, B vitamins, zinc and other nutrients, DASH dieters should keep these nutrients down and make sure the mainstay of their diet is high in fruit and vegetables. One serving may include 1 oz of poultry (cooked, skinless), lean meat or seafood, 1 egg, 1 oz of tuna (packed in water, no salt added).
  • 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds and legumes – these are good sources of protein, potassium, magnesium, fiber, phytochemicals, and other essential nutrients. Examples include sunflower seeds, beans, peas, lentils, almonds, peanuts and pistachios.
  • 2 to 3 servings of fats and oils – the human body needs fat to properly absorb essential vitamins as well as some other nutrients. For a healthy immune system, we have to consume adequate amounts of fats. One serving may include 1 teaspoon of margarine, 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise, or 2 tablespoons of light salad dressing.
  • Up to 5 servings per week of sweets – being on a DASH diet does not mean giving up sweets altogether. Dieters need to keep their intake limited. One serving could include 1 cup of lemonade, ½ a cup of sorbet, 1 tablespoon of sugar, jam or jelly.
  • Alcohol – DASH dieters should consume no more than two drinks for men and one drink for women per day.

Daily Nutritional Goals in the DASH diet (for a 2,000-Calorie Eating Plan)

Total fat 27% of calories
Saturated fat 6% of calories
Protein 18% of calories
Carbohydrate 55% of calories
Cholesterol 150 mg
Sodium 2,300 mg*
Potassium 4,700 mg
Calcium 1,250 mg
Magnesium 500 mg
Fiber 30 g


* 1,500 mg of sodium in the low sodium DASH diet

The DASH diet was not designed as a weight loss regime. It was designed to reduce blood pressure.

DASH diet ranked Number 1

U.S. News & World Report in January 2013 ranked the DASH diet as the best overall diet.5

A panel of experts in diet, nutrition, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and food psychology reviewed 29 diets and ranked them according to safety, short-term and long-term weight loss, how easy they were to follow, nutritional completeness, diabetes prevention and management, and heart disease prevention.

The diets were ranked according to a star system, with five stars being the maximum score. Below are the diets which ranked best:

  • DASH diet – 4.1 stars. Nutritionally complete, safe, can prevent and control diabetes, also promotes heart health.In addition, Mayo Clinic6 says that the DASH diet may also protect against stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.


  • TLC diet – 4 stars. TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes. This diet was created by the National Institutes of Health to reduce levels of cholesterol. The panel said it is a healthy, well rounded diet. However, the dieter is left very much on his/her own.
  • Mayo Clinic diet – 3.9 stars. Experts say it is safe and nutritious, and moderately effective for those aiming to lose weight.
  • Mediterranean diet – 3.9 stars. The diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, and other healthy nutrients. It was criticized for being too different to what Americans are used to and may consequently be hard to keep up.
  • Weight Watchers – 3.9 stars. This diet was praised for the emotional support dieters receive, as well as being an easy one to stick to.


The DASH diet was also ranked Number 1 in 2011.

Video – The Dash diet

In the video below, Sharon Richter, a registered dietitian, explains what the DASH diet is and how it can help people with high blood pressure.

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