Pros and Cons of the DASH Diet

The DASH Eating Plan Is Popular but There Are Some Drawbacks

woman choosing veggies
Eat fresh flavorful foods on the DASH plan. Betsie Van der Meer/ Digital Vision/ Getty Images

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, has been voted as the best overall diet for several years in a popular survey. The DASH program was developed by a panel of experts at the National Institutes of Health to help Americans lower their blood pressure, but as it turns out, it is also effective at weight loss as well.

DASH Diet Helps You Lose Weight

The DASH diet is an eating program for life.

This is not a short-term crash diet, but rather a sustainable program of eating healthy foods. You learn to cook and enjoy a diet of whole grains, lean protein, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. The DASH diet is low in fat and sugar, specifically in saturated fat and cholesterol. Highly processed foods, which tend to be high in sodium, are discouraged. It emphasizes fiber and protein.

Pros of the DASH Diet

  • Cost: A benefit is that the DASH eating plan is free and accessible.Unlike commercial eating programs, everything you need to learn the program is available online free-of-charge. The food you eat can be easily found at any grocery store and aren't necessarily expensive foods.
  • Flexibility: DASH diet plans are available for calorie levels 1,200, 1,600, 2,000, 2,600 and 3,100, so it is easy to choose the level that will produce steady weight loss depending on your starting weight and gender. As you lose weight and transition to a lifelong eating pattern, you can use the plans for the appropriate calorie level for maintenance.
  • Health: You will enjoy research-proven health benefits in lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol by following this diet.
  • Nutrition: With the DASH diet, you will be eating the foods everyone recommends for good nutrition and avoiding empty calories and overly processed foods.
  • Backed By Major Health Organizations: The DASH diet is endorsed by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the USDA.

    DASH Diet Drawbacks

    • Lack of Convenience: Because this is not a commercial diet, you won't get pre-packaged foods delivered to your door. You can't go to the freezer section of your local market and get meals that are already cooked. This diet takes some work.
    • Not Specifically Designed for Weight Loss: While you can follow one of the lower-calorie target plans of the DASH diet, the primary emphasis is not on weight loss.
    • Support: If you find that you do best in a program that includes regular meetings, social support, and check-ins, you will have to seek those out on your own.

    Bottom Line on the DASH Diet

    So is the DASH diet worth it? Health experts say yes. The time you invest into cooking and learning about new foods pays off in the end because the skills turn into lifelong habits. You are also likely to get support from your physician on this plan because it is an eating program that is widely supported by the medical community. But the true test of the diet's success is whether or not you stick to it. Give it a try.

    Sources:

    Health Benefits of the DASH Eating Plan. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/benefits.

    Living With the DASH Eating Plan. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/getstarted.

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