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DASH Diet – The Best Diet For 7 Years In A Row, According To US. News And World Report

The DASH Diet was ranked best diet for 7th year in a row by US News & World Report. Also this diet is best for diabetes, heart health, and healthy eating. It is originally designed to lower blood pressure and is also very effective for weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and managing or preventing diabetes.

 

What is really the DASH diet?

What is DASH Diet

The US National Institutes of Health were sponsoring a research to develop a healthy DASH diet plan in order to lower blood pressure without medications.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The overall goal of the DASH diet is to lower your consumption of sodium, which aids in lowering your blood pressure. Since the diet focuses on eating the right foods with the right portions, it’s also effective for short-term and long-term weight loss.

The first DASH diet research showed that it could lower blood pressure as well as the first line blood pressure medications, even with a sodium intake of 3300 mg/day!  Since then, numerous studies have shown that the DASH diet reduces the risk of many diseases, including some kinds of cancer, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, kidney stones, and diabetes. It has been proven to be an effective way to lose weight and become healthier at the same time. It is full of fabulous, delicious, real foods. All of these benefits led to the #1 diet ranking by US News & World Report for 7 years in a row.

Basically, the DASH diet requires consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. There can be limited consumption of fish and poultry, while red meat, sweets and fatty foods should be consumed sparingly.

What Can I Eat On The DASH Diet?

On the DASH diet, you’re expected to eat:

  • 6-8 servings of whole grains per day: These servings include whole-wheat bread, cereals, rice or whole wheat pasta. The whole grain or whole-wheat variety of grains contains more fiber and nutrients than refined grains.
  • 4-5 servings of fruit per day: In addition to providing plenty vitamins and nutrients, fruits are also great sources of fiber. You can have fresh, frozen or canned fruits, just make there that there are no added sugars.
  • 4-5 servings of vegetables per day: Make sure to include leafy green vegetables in addition to tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
  • 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy per day: This would include 1 cup of skim milk or low-fat yogurt. This is beneficial because of the calcium, vitamin D and protein these products provide; however, don’t overdo it. Also, avoid regular or even fat-free cheese because they are often high in sodium.
  • 6 or fewer ounces of lean meats, like poultry or fish per day: This would include skinless chicken or turkey breast, seafood, or tuna that has been packaged in water. Avoid red meat as often as possible, as it tends to be higher in fat and cholesterol. When cooking, trim away the skin and fat, then broil, grill, roast or poach instead of frying.

In addition to those foods, you can also have:

  • 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds, legumes per week: This would include almonds, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lentils, etc. However, keep the serving size small to avoid too many calories. Soybeans and tofu are good alternatives to meat because of its high protein content.
  • 2-3 servings of fats and oils per day – but make sure you don’t overdo it! A serving would consist of 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayo, 1 teaspoon of margarine or 2 tablespoons of light salad dressing. Always choose products that are low in saturated and trans fats.
  • 5 or fewer servings of sweets per week: Yes, you read this correctly! However, don’t overdo this either. A serving of sweets would consist of 1 tablespoon of sugar, jelly, or jam; 1/2 cup of sorbet; or 1 cup of lemonade. Try to choose fat-free or low-fat sweets.
  • No more than two alcoholic drinks a day for men, and one drink per day for women.
  • To help make the DASH diet more effective, make sure to look for food labels that say “sodium free,” “low sodium” or “very low sodium.” Not only does excess sodium trigger water weight, it also promotes high blood pressure.

Is the DASH Diet Effective And Safe?

Various clinical trials of the DASH diet have shown the effectiveness this diet has at lowering blood pressure. One study shows that researchers noticed a reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 5.5 and 3 mm Hg, respectively, after three weeks of being on the DASH diet. They compared this diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and reductions in saturated and total fat, with that of a typical American.

This diet is safe for you and your family. In fact, the government’s dietary guidelines for Americans highlighted the DASH eating plan as an “exemplary way for Americans ages 2 and older to eat healthfully.” However, make sure to monitor for potential food allergies in yourself and your family members while trying new foods.

DASH Diet Eating Plan

This diet is safe for you and your family. In fact, the government’s dietary guidelines for Americans highlighted the DASH eating plan as an “exemplary way for Americans ages 2 and older to eat healthfully.” However, make sure to monitor for potential food allergies in yourself and your family members while trying new foods.

DASH works by including a variety of foods from all food groups. Use daily totals and portion information to calculate how much to eat each day.

Fruits

Daily Goal: 2-2 1/2 cups

Examples of a 1/2 cup portion include:

  • 1 medium fresh fruit,
  • 16 grapes,
  • 1/2 cup fresh, canned or frozen,
  • 1/4 cup dried, or
  • 4 oz 100% juice

Vegetables

Daily Goal: 2-2 1/2 cups

Examples of a 1/2 cup portion include:

  • 1 cup leafy greens,
  • 1/2 cup raw, canned* or frozen, or
  • 4 ox 100% juice *

* Choose lower sodium

Fat-free or Lowfat Milk and Dairy

Daily Goal: 2-3 cups

Examples of a 1 cup portion include:

  • 8 OZ milk,
  • 8 oz yogurt,
  • 1 1/2 oz lowfat, fat-free or reduced fat natural cheese,
  • 2 oz low-fat or fat-free processed cheese

Whole Grains

Daily Goal: 6-8 ounces

Examples of a 1 oz portion include:

  • 1 oz slice bread,
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta,
  • 1/2 – 1 1/4 cup dry cereal*

* Check nutrition facts label.

Lean Meat, Fish, Poultry

Daily Goal: 6 ounces or less

Examples of a 1 oz portion include:

  • 1 oz cooked beef, fish or chicken, or 1 egg
  • Note: A 3 oz portion roughly equals the size of a deck of cards.

Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes

Daily Goal: 4-5 portions per week

Examples of a portion include:

  • 1/3 cup or 1 1/2 oz nuts,
  • 2 tbs peanut butter,
  • 1/2 oz seeds,
  • 1/2 cup cooked dry beans, peas or lentils.

Note: These portions can count as a 2 oz portion of lean meat, fish, poultry.

Oils

Use Sparingly

Examples of a 1 teaspoon portion include:

1 tsp soft margarine, 1 Tbsp low-fat mayo, 2 Tbsp low-fat salad dressing or 1 tsp vegetable oil

Added Sugar

Use sparingly

Examples of one serving include:

1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp jelly or jam, 1/2 cup sorbet and ices or 1 cup lemonade

Alcohol

One drink is equivalent to:

  • 12 ounces beer,
  • 5 ounces wine,
  • 1.5 ounces spirits

(Men: 2 or less drinks per day / Women: 1 or less drinks per day)

Sodium

  • 1 teaspoon of salt = 2,300 mg sodium.

The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution by Marla Heller

In the book, The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution, dietician Marla Heller offers her own version of the DASH diet and she divides it into two phases:

 

DASH Diet Meal

Phase 1: Two Weeks to Shrink Your Waistline

During the 14 days of Phase 1, you will learn how to satisfy your hunger and, as a result, feel fuller longer. To regulate your blood sugar and help curb your cravings, avoid fruit and whole grains, which have a lot of natural sugar, and alcohol, which also contain sugars. That said, you can enjoy 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy per day. This would include 1 cup of skim milk or low-fat yogurt. Avoid regular or even fat-free cheese because they are often high in sodium.
By avoiding starchy foods with sugar, you’re helping to regulate your blood sugar and diminish cravings. Try leafy greens like lettuce and spinach or cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cabbage. You can also eat cucumbers, squash, peppers, and tomatoes.

You can also enjoy up to 6 ounces of lean meats, fish, and poultry a day. Aim for 4 to 5 servings of beans or lentils a week.

Opt for protein-rich foods that have healthy fats, like fresh nuts and seeds, or fatty fish like salmon or mackerel. Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats as well as antioxidants lutein, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Toss them in a salad along with vegetable oils, especially olive, canola and nut oils, which you can use as salad dressing.

Phase 2: Kick It Up a Notch!

After the first 14 days, you will continue to eat the foods from Phase 1 but re-introduce some other healthy foods that will help you continue your weight loss. How long does Phase 2 last? It’s your life plan, so it should last forever so you can keep your blood pressure low and keep weight off.

Whole Grains: Choose from cereals, breads, and pasta. Aim for 6 to 8 servings a day.

Fruit: Make fruit (fresh or frozen) a part of your diet every day. Aim for 4 to 5 servings a day. Try making these low-sugar fruits part of your diet.

Low-Fat Milk or Yogurt: Stick to 2 to 3 servings a day as in Phase 1.

Sugar: You can have 3 to 4 servings of sugary foods each week.

Alcohol: You can have a small glass of red wine occasionally, which represents one fruit serving.

The next page has a week’s worth of meals! Phase 1 has 3 sample days, and Phase 2 has 4 sample days.

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