What Is The DASH Diet Plan?

DASH diet foods
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Are you confused about the DASH diet plan? Weight loss experts and medical professionals often refer to the DASH eating program and recommend it for improved health. But it's not always easy to find guidelines to follow the DASH diet. Find out why the DASH diet plan is popular and how it might help you reach your weight loss goals.

What Is The DASH Diet?

The DASH diet is not a commercial weight loss program.

In fact, it's technically not a weight loss program at all.  The word "DASH" stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The eating plan was developed to help people manage high blood pressure. The DASH diet is promoted by the National Institutes of Health and the USDA as one of the healthiest eating plans for good health and well being.

The DASH diet is often recommended for people who need to reduce their sodium intake.  This may include people with high blood pressure. It may also include people who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, African Americans, or people who are 51 or older.

So can you lose weight on the DASH diet plan? Yes! In fact, several sources consistently rate this eating plan as one of the best weight loss diets available because the foods you eat on the program are generally low in calories and fat. And because the goal of the program is to reduce hypertension, you'll find that most of the foods that you eat on the DASH diet are minimally processed and contain less salt.

How to Follow the DASH Diet

If you want to use the DASH diet to lose weight, you'll find several resources to help you eat the right foods, plan meals and slim down. But because this is not a commercial weight loss program, you won't find a step-by-step guide that is tailored just for you. Instead, you've got to do a little homework to plan meals, find recipes and learn to eat DASH-approved foods.

The good news, however, is that the extra work is worth it. One of the reasons that the DASH diet is rated so high is that the eating program is relatively easy to follow.  That means that it is sustainable for the long term.  There are no "allowed" foods or "banned" foods. Instead you'll eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. You'll limit your consumption of red meat, sugary drinks, and of course, foods with too much sodium.

If you want to start losing weight on the DASH diet plan, these are great resources to help you begin:

Sources:

Explore DASH Eating Plan. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Accessed: August 20, 2015. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash

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