Updated March 13th, 2024 at 09:26 IST

The DASH Diet: Effective Way To Lower Blood Pressure Or Another Health Fad?

DASH diet is a healthy-eating plan designed to help prevent or treat high blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol.

What is the DASH diet? | Image:Unsplash
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In a world where fad diets come and go, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet stands out as a scientifically-backed approach to reducing blood pressure and improving heart health. Developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of USA, the DASH diet has garnered attention for its potential to lower blood pressure without the need for medication. But is it truly effective, or is it just another fleeting trend? Let's look at what the diet is all about.

The science behind the DASH diet

According to a report by Mayo Clinic, “The DASH diet is a healthy-eating plan designed to help prevent or treat high blood pressure, also called hypertension. It also may help lower cholesterol linked to heart disease, called low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.”

What is the DASH diet? | Image: Unsplash

The DASH diet is based on scientific evidence derived from rigorous research studies. One of the most notable studies supporting the efficacy of the DASH diet is the DASH-Sodium trial. Conducted by the NHLBI, this landmark study demonstrated that following the DASH diet can lead to significant reductions in blood pressure, particularly when combined with a reduction in sodium intake.

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Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the DASH-Sodium trial involved over 400 participants with hypertension. The study compared three different dietary approaches: a typical American diet, a typical American diet supplemented with additional fruits and vegetables, and the DASH diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. The results revealed that participants following the DASH diet experienced the greatest reductions in blood pressure, with systolic blood pressure decreasing by an average of 5.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure decreasing by an average of 3.0 mm Hg compared to those on the typical American diet.

Key principles of the DASH diet

The DASH diet is characterised by its emphasis on nutrient-rich foods that are known to promote heart health and lower blood pressure. These include

What is the DASH diet? | Image: Unsplash

Fruits and vegetables

Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, fruits and vegetables form the foundation of the DASH diet. These foods are high in potassium, magnesium, and dietary fibre, all of which play a role in regulating blood pressure.

Whole grains

Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal are sources of complex carbohydrates and fibre, which help to maintain stable blood sugar levels and promote heart health.

Lean proteins

Lean sources of protein, such as poultry, fish, beans, and legumes, are preferred over red meat and processed meats in the DASH diet. These protein sources are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, making them heart-healthy choices.

What is the DASH diet? | Image: Unsplash

Low-fat dairy

The DASH diet includes low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese, which provide essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D without the added saturated fat.

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Published March 13th, 2024 at 09:26 IST