DASH diet proven to reduce heart disease and high blood pressure

Fad diets come and go. Usually, you jump on them to lose weight.  

But the latest diet trend, the DASH diet,   isn’t all about quick, easy weight loss. Instead, it’s about    reducing the risk of disease and l high blood pressure.

What is the DASH diet?

The premise of the DASH diet is to strike the right balance of foods in your daily diet. Unlike other diet s, the DASH diet doesn’t eliminate any food group — grains, dairy, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables are all allowed on the DASH diet. Even alcohol and caffeine are DASH diet-compliant ‚  in moderation, of course.

“I’m a fan of the DASH diet because it’s a well-researched diet that you can actually adopt and live with, healthfully, for the rest of your life,” said nutritionist Julie Miller Jones.  

The diet lets you choose eight daily servings of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, grains and small portions of meat, though it encourages whole grains, plant-based eating and, when it has to be meat, fish and chicken. 

“It is very balanced and can fit most ethnic patterns, since it’s filled with a wide variety of delicious and alluring foods that are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber,” Jones said. “In my opinion, it leads to the lifelong, sustainable food choices that we need.” 

Plus, she said, it’s a diet that makes it easy to actually stick to.

“The cooking is fun, and the food is delicious, so it is a great tasting, easily applicable diet —– part of the reason why it works,” Jones said.  

Although the DASH diet has only recently gained popularity, dietician Susan Bowerman  said experts have long considered it great for treating high blood pressure.

“It has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best overall diets for the general public,” she said.

How does the DASH diet work?

The DASH diet steers you toward low-sodium foods and nutrients that are believed to lower blood pressure, like potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber. One 2017 study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that it could reduce the risk of damage to heart muscles. Subjects in the study had 18% fewer biomarkers linked to heart damage and 13% fewer biomarkers linked to inflammation.” 

The DASH diet has also been shown to help lower blood pressure. 

“When you consume too much sodium, the body holds more water to kind of wash it,” nutrition coach Elliot Reimers saids. “Excess water then causes stress on the heart and blood vessels, elevating the blood pressure. When you reduce sodium, blood pressure lowers.” 

Is the DASH diet right for you?

Though everyone can benefit from the DASH diet, people with high blood pressure, cholesterol and those at risk of developing cancer, heart problems, stroke, and diabetes are great candidates for this diet, Reimers said. But there are caveats.

“Consult your doctor first to check your sodium level, because insufficient sodium has adverse effects, too,” he said. “It’s also important to prepare yourself for food-and-drink restrictions, especially if you haven’t been mindful of your food choices before.”