DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This is an eating plan based on research studies sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute that has been found to significantly reduce blood pressure.
The basic overview of the DASH Diet includes eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Eating fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Eating fish, poultry, beans, and nuts. Limiting foods high in saturated fats like fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and certain oils. Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and other sweet treats and limiting salt intake.
I have a few caveats to this eating plan, such as choosing gluten-free whole grains and possibly eliminating dairy altogether or choosing dairy from grass-fed cows. Remember, everyone is unique and not every plan will work for everyone. It is best to have a plan specific to your body’s needs.
Regardless of which eating plan you choose to follow, everyone should have more fruits and vegetables in their diet. Try to center your meals around the vegetables you have available. Make vegetables the star of the meal and the protein like a condiment. Try to eat fish once or twice a week for the amazing Omega-3 fatty acids they provide. Remember SMASH - Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines and Herring!
Based on a 2000 calorie diet, DASH recommends 6-8 daily servings of whole grains, 6 or less servings of meat, poultry, or fish, 4-5 servings each of vegetables and fruit, 2-3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy, 2-3 servings of fats and oils and less than 2300 mg of salt. DASH also recommends 4-5 weekly servings of nuts, seeds, dry beans, and peas and 5 or less weekly servings of sweets. Try to pick sweets that are actually good for you; small amount of dark chocolate, treats made with Monk Fruit, or some fruit with a drizzle of honey.
Personally, I think the amounts of whole grains and vegetables should be reversed. We should be eating 6-8 servings of vegetables and 4-5 servings of gluten-free whole grains. It is better for everyone’s overall health. I am also concerned about low-fat or fat-free products because they often substitute sugar for fat to preserve flavor.
Fat carries a lot of flavor and is also good for absorption of our fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Balancing Omega 3’s with Omega-6’s provides many health benefits such as cognitive support, cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation, bone and joint health, and healthy skin (to name a few). So, choosing the right kinds of fats is important.
The DASH diet recommends vegetable oil, but you need to use caution here, too. Soybean, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils can be highly unstable and inflammatory, as well as high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which the Standard American Diet has in abundance. Olive oil and avocado oil are probably two of the best choices because they are rich in Omega-3s. Nuts and seeds also contain Omega-3 fatty acids to promote a healthy balance of Omega fatty acids.
Sometimes these eating plans can be confusing and it’s hard to know where to start. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can help you achieve your health and wellness goals. Are you ready to PIVOT to functional health and wellness?