DASH DIET Overview Information
The DASH diet is a special diet used for high blood pressure (hypertension). DASH stands for “dietary approaches to stop hypertension.” It focuses on including lots of fruits and vegetables, grains, and a low amount of fat.
The DASH diet is also used for high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that makes people more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes.
How does it work?
The DASH diet is a special diet used to help lower blood pressure. Specifically, for a 2000-calorie diet, the DASH diet suggests 7-8 servings of grains, 4-5 servings of fruits, 4-5 servings of vegetables, 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products, and 2 or fewer servings of lean meats. Snacks and sweets are limited to 5 per week.
The DASH diet does not restrict salt intake; however, combining it with a salt-restricted diet can improve blood pressure lowering.
Likely Effective for:
- High blood pressure. Using the DASH diet significantly lowers blood pressure after 1-2 months in people with or without high blood pressure. However, it produces more of a blood pressure-lowering effect in people with high blood pressure compared to those without high blood pressure. Combining the DASH diet with a sodium-reduced diet is more effective than either diet alone. The DASH diet is more effective for lowering blood pressure in African Americans compared to Caucasians.
Possibly Effective for:
- High cholesterol. Some research shows that using the DASH diet significantly reduces “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in people with high cholesterol after 8 weeks. But the DASH diet also decreases “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
- Metabolic syndrome. Some research shows that the DASH diet with salt restriction can reduce risk factors for metabolic syndrome. After 6 months on the DASH diet with salt restriction, some people with metabolic syndrome have a significant increase in “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, lower triglycerides, decreased blood pressure, and decreased fasting blood sugar.
- Isolated systolic hypertension. This is a condition in which the systolic blood pressure is too high, but the diastolic pressure is in the normal range. Some research shows that using the DASH diet significantly lowers systolic blood pressure in patients with stage 1 isolated systolic hypertension after 8 weeks.
DASH DIET Side Effects & Safety
The DASH diet is safe for most people. There are no known side effects.