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The DASH Diet - A Diet Worth Trying

Want to lose weight? Try any of the current diets being advertised and you will most likely lose weight. Want to be healthier as a result of the diet you are on? Well now - that complicates things a bit. Many people incorrectly assume that if they lose weight while on a particular diet, they are automatically healthier. This faulty assumption can lead to decisions that can be detrimental to the health of the dieter. As reported in the article, , the goal of any diet should be to improve a person’s health – not necessarily lose weight.

The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a dietary plan that will most likely improve one’s health and is based on solid scientific research and not on anecdotal evidence. The DASH Diet is the result of a two-part study, funded by the National Institute of Health, which investigated the effects of diet and sodium intake on one’s blood pressure. The initial findings were first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 – with further results being published in the same journal in 2001.

The main recommendations of this eating plan are to:

  1. Reduce sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams per day (American average is 3,600 to 4,000 mg per day)
  2. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat diary foods
  3. Eat a diet high in fiber which includes whole grain foods
  4. Reduce saturated fat and cholesterol intake
  5. Reduce intake of sweets and sugar-containing beverages

So why would you want to follow this eating plan? The final results of the DASH Diet study suggest that one can improve their health and decrease their risk of disease by following this plan. More specific findings were as follows.

  1. All the participants on the DASH Diet showed a decrease in blood pressure. As a group their blood pressure was about as low as that of patients who took antihypertensive medications.
  2. If the majority of the American population were to adopt this eating format, the overall incidence of coronary artery disease and stroke could be reduced by 15% and 27% respectfully.
  3. Following an eating pattern high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products is a lifestyle choice that is very successful in treating high blood pressure.
  4. Reducing sodium intake decreases blood pressure. Those who cut their sodium intake to the recommended level were likely to lower their blood pressure regardless of whether they followed the DASH Diet or not.

So if you are looking to improve your health, give the DASH Diet a shot. If weight loss is also a goal, combine the DASH Diet with a consistent and moderate exercise routine. Healthy weight loss is likely to be the result. For more information about the DASH Diet including menus, go to the following web sites and enter DASH Diet in the “Search” box.

To view an online DASH Diet cookbook, go to www.oregondairycouncil.org/dash/cookbook

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