What is the DASH diet and why are doctors so enthusiastic about it?

by Shirley Marie Bradby

March 09, 2018

What is the DASH diet and why are doctors so enthusiastic about it?

The number of people who book a visit to a nutritionist or a dietician is steadily increasing because over time it has been understood that diets are not just for people who want to lose weight. In fact, their main purpose is to guarantee proper nutrition, that is healthy and balanced. 

Over time, it has also been understood (even if there are still people who believe otherwise) that the most effective diets are not those that impose a prolonged fast or that exclude most foods, which besides not providing any benefits, can also prove extremely harmful to the body.

Diets that work, those that make you feel good, that solve problematic situations for health, are those that are gradual and that allow for a wide range of foods. 

There is an indefinite number of diets, depending on the purpose you want to achieve, how much time you have available and that take into account any special physical conditions.

Among the most modern, there is the so-called DASH diet, introduced in 2002. This diet plan was initially designed for people with hypertension, but doctors have been able to observe that in reality, this diet offers a much wider number of benefits. 

Here is what it consists of and what results it achieves. 

Warning: This is not a medical page and no suggestions or practical methods are offered. For any doubts or further information, it is best to refer to a healthcare professional and avoid taking personal initiatives. The content of this article is purely for information purposes and does not in any way replace the opinion of a doctor.

What is the DASH diet?

What is the DASH diet?

DASH stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension", or "dietary approaches to blocking hypertension". The aim is therefore to reduce arterial hypertension leading to innumerable cardiovascular complications.

During the study phase, however, doctors observed that this diet also positively intervened on other aspects such as the reduction of cholesterol level, the risk of infarction, and weight normalization, and it also proved to be effective in preventing the type 2 diabetes.


What are the principles of DASH?

What are the principles of DASH?


DASH is not a diet to be followed only for a short period of time and that provides immediate results. It is proposed as a food program to be followed over a lifetime, in order to prevent the most common cardiovascular complications. For this reason, DASH does not present itself as a strict diet that prohibits absolutely the intake of some foods, but as a set of good rules that should become habits. 

Here are its basic principles: 

  • Drink 8 cups of water a day. 
  • Eat 5 meals a day. 
  • Consume between 2000-2500 kcal per day. 
  • Limit desserts to 5 times a week. 
  • Eat more cereals, seeds, legumes, and vegetables 
  • Prefer non-carbonated and non-alcoholic beverages. 
  • No smoking. 
  • Do not exceed one teaspoon of salt a day. 
  • Prefer whole foods. 
  • Exclude fatty foods, smoked, spicy and ready-made meals. 

The DASH diet is very simple to follow --- there is no need to completely change one's eating habits, but only to start eating what is indicated and to exclude what is not recommended. You can start doing it very gradually, so you can make small changes from time to time. The DASH diet is suitable for those who have problems with or a genetic predisposition for hypertension, but it also for those who simply want to maintain their weight and follow healthy eating habits. 

If you are interested in the DASH diet and want to know its details (such as portions of each food and on which days the meals are to be alternated), please talk to your doctor or consult a dietician. In this way, you can formulate a plan that is personalized and suitable for your physical needs. 

Have you tried the DASH diet? Did you get good results? Let us know!