The DASH diet is a widely used eating plan that adults once used as a way to reduce health risk and to improve cardiovascular factors.  However, in light of a growing obesity issue in the U.S., this diet plan slowly and gradually progressed to a weight loss program, and it is now one of the most commonly used options around for weight loss.  Listed ahead is a complete guide to the DASH diet including how it first originated, some of the foods that are allowed, and the ways in which it can affect your health.

What is the DASH Diet?

The DASH diet has been used over the past few decades and it was once used as a way to regulate hypertension (high blood pressure).  Given that it was used to fight high blood pressure, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.  Since it originated as a way to holistically control blood pressure, it widely became popular by multiple health authorities, including the American Heart Association, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as well as The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Since the DASH diet was once used as a way to fight hypertension (and it still is today), many adults found that using this diet and lifestyle program led to weight loss.  It is possible that weight loss was something that many adults found to happen since the DASH diet encourages fresh fruits and vegetables throughout each meal.  For this reason, the DASH diet evolved as an eating pattern that can also help you to lose weight.

What are the Rules of the DASH Diet?

Unlike other diet programs around, the DASH diet really has no set rules for which you must follow.  However, it is encouraged that you consume as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can throughout the day.  Generally, swapping out cookies, crackers, salty snacks, chips, and candy bars for fresh fruit and vegetables is how adults are able to notice a major health change.

The DASH diet incorporates a complete eating plan in which you do not restrict what you eat; rather it encourages moderation and self-control.  For a typical 2000 calorie diet, you can expect to aim for 7-8 servings of whole grains each day, 4-5 servings of fruits, 4-5 servings of vegetables, 2-3 servings of low fat dairy options, no more than two servings of lean meats, 4-5 servings of nuts and seeds throughout the week, and limited fats and sweets.   This closely mimics the standard adult dietary guidelines from MyPlate, but it could give off the sense that this is not a restrictive diet and more of a different way to eat.

Top Health Benefits of DASH Diet

Similar to most other dieting options around, making a change to the DASH diet may be part of a healthy lifestyle change.  For this reason, knowing the health benefits of the DASH diet is important, especially if you want a diet that allows for weight loss and optimal health.

Stroke  

Stroke is a devastating and often fatal condition in which there is reduced blood to some part of your brain.  Generally this can be caused by a number of factors, but high blood pressure is one of the factors.  For this reason, adapting lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure is important and it seems the DASH diet may be helpful.  A recent study found that adhering to a DASH diet approach is associated with a reduced risk of stroke.  Consider talking with your doctor about the DASH diet if you are at risk of stroke.

Kidney Stones

One painful condition that is not commonly talked about is kidney stones.  Kidney stones are very hard deposits of minerals that are generated in your kidneys and travel through your bladder for elimination.  While your doctor should be in charge of your care throughout your kidney stone process, consider a DASH diet as a way to prevent the stones in the future from occurring.  Studies have shown that a DASH diet with overall good adherence is associated with a decrease in the formation of kidney stones.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S.  One condition known as heart failure is caused by a number of factors, but high blood pressure can certainly lead to heart failure if it persists chronically.  For this reason, a DASH diet may help with overall heart failure among adults.  A study on over 36,000 individuals found that a DASH diet is associated with overall reduced heart failure rates.  Consider discussing the DASH diet with your doctor to see if this diet is right for you.

Cancer  

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., but worldwide, it is one of the most fatal.  It seems that diet plays a major role in cancer risk, especially in colorectal cancer.  Fortunately, research has shown that the DASH diet is strongly associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer in men who adhere to the diet.  Finding ways to decrease cancer risk is important and consider asking your doctor about the DASH diet if you are at risk of colorectal cancer.

Diabetes  

One common condition that is affecting more adults is type II diabetes.  Generally, this condition is caused by lifestyle factors including your diet.  Making small changes to your diet may help to decrease your risk of acquiring this condition, not to mention help to improve the condition when you have it.  A DASH diet may help to improve your risk of type II diabetes since it encourages fresh foods, very little sweets, and a healthy lifestyle.  Consider talking with your doctor about the DASH diet if you have or are at risk of diabetes.

Cholesterol  

One of the most common reasons for stroke and heart disease is hypertension, but high cholesterol is a major concern for adults as well.  Cholesterol is designated by the structure of the fatty compound, with some strands of cholesterol deemed good and some bad.  With that said, high amounts of good cholesterol can be protective on your heart and it can even help to reduce the bad cholesterol.  The bad cholesterol is most widely known for creating atherosclerosis in your hear vessels, which is the cause of those walls hardening.  When your bad cholesterol is elevated, you are at risk for harmful conditions.  Fortunately, diet plays a big role in your risk and it seems the DASH diet can help.  Studies have shown that the DASH diet can lead to significant decreases in total cholesterol levels, thus reducing cardiovascular disease risk.

Is the DASH Diet Good for Weight Loss?

Even though the DASH diet was once considered to be for hypertension, it seems that many flock to the program as a way to lose weight.  The DASH diet has since created a specific weight loss solution for adults looking to lose weight.  The DASH diet weight loss solution is a complete plan that includes 28 full meal plans, 45 recipes, and a lifestyle program that is aimed to allow you to successfully lose weight.

Now, most adults looking to jump on a diet want to know how much could be expected.  The answer to this is it depends.  Weight loss typically is best when it is slow and steady, but the results really depend on your current lifestyle, how much you have to lose, and your commitment.  Some adults report about 35 pounds in six months, which is about six pounds each month, or a pound and a half each week.  Consider the DASH diet as a long-term success plan that will help you to fully make new, healthier decisions with food and expect about a pound or two of weight loss per week on average.

Foods to Eat on the DASH Diet

One of the best parts of the DASH diet is that there are very few restrictions on what you can eat.  The general guidelines of this diet are that you should eat three meals each day with two or three snacks to settle your appetite.  Generally, the DASH diet discourages food deprivation and severe caloric restrictions.

In addition to eating three meals and snacks throughout the day, the DASH diet encourages you to consume as many colors as possible throughout the day.  This means to select foods that are purple, orange, yellow, green, blue, and red, you name it.  You should expect to get as much color as possible with fresh fruits and veggies and the more color you have means the more antioxidants you get.

Some weight loss and healthy diets encourage consuming large amounts of lean meats, but the DASH encourages you to consume moderately in lean protein options as a way to avoid feeling hungry a few hours later.  This is great for anyone who struggles with desserts and snacks after having a large dinner.  Not to mention, high amounts of unnecessary protein can lead to fat gain.

Nuts and plant fats are perhaps the one area where restrictions set in place.  Generally, other diet plans encourage snacking on nuts and plant fats whenever possible, but the DASH diet encourages only a few servings throughout the week.  This is helpful for adults on the weight loss solution and it is a good way to keep your total calories down throughout the week.

What do Typical Meals Look Like on the DASH Diet?

Considering you can eat almost anything you want on the DASH diet, it is important to have an idea as to what kind of a daily menu you should expect.  Remember that you eat three meals a day in addition to two to three snacks so be sure to make notice of this.  A traditional DASH diet meal plan may incorporate lean protein options, egg whites (instead of whole eggs), and sugar-free foods such as Jell-O, in addition to reasonable dessert options.  Take a look here at a menu that is aimed at weight loss, with two phases listed.  In addition to these daily menus, consider a weekly menu here as a way to guide your journey throughout the week.

Wrapping it up on the DASH Diet

Making a lifestyle change to the DASH diet may be a good way for you to lose weight and to improve your health and wellness.  Considered once to be the diet to combat hypertension, the DASH diet is now a popular option for adults looking to lose weight.  One of the best features of the diet is that it encourages fresh fruit and vegetables, not to mention there really is no restrictions on what you can or should eat.

Consider the DASH diet as something you can use to get you slow and consistent results without avoiding any particular foods.  Lastly, if you are considering the DASH diet as a way to reduce your disease risk, consider discussing this option with your doctor before giving it a try.