Contributor: Dr. Eno Nsima-Obot
DASH is an acronym that stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet was created from a research trial conducted by the National Institutes for health, which studied the effects of diet on blood pressure control.
The original research trial included adults with normal blood pressure and high blood pressure. The participants were randomly assigned to three different diets. The three diets were
- the standard American (SAD) diet,
- the standard American diet (SAD) fruits and vegetables,
- the DASH diet.
After only two weeks on the eating plan, two out of the three groups had lower blood pressure readings. The two groups were those on the SAD diet with fruits and vegetables and those on the DASH diet.
Here are some additional benefits of the DASH diet:
- It can help slow down the progression of kidney disease.
- It improves the cholesterol profile.
- It reduces the risk of heart disease.
- It helps with weight management.
- It helps with blood sugar management.
Some simple steps to take when starting a DASH eating plan:
The original DASH diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, lean meats, and whole grains. The goal of the DASH eating plan is to consume fresh, unprocessed foods.
Whole grains have a lot of benefits. They are complex carbohydrates, which take time to be broken down in the digestive tract. They help reduce blood sugar spikes commonly seen with simple carbohydrates. They are also a source of fiber which has many benefits, including helping with bowel regularity and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Examples of whole grains include oats, quinoa, amaranth, bulgur, unprocessed wheat.
Eat more fruits and vegetables with a wide range of colors.
Too often, we tend to get stuck with just eating one particular color- like green vegetables, for instance. The pigments that create the colors in fruits and vegetables are potent chemicals called phytonutrients. By eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables with different colors, you are eating more phytonutrients. These chemicals perform a variety of functions in the body. Aim to eat at least 1-2 servings of color every day. Examples of "eating from the rainbow" would include:
- Red apples, pomegranate, cherries, sweet bell peppers
- Orange apricots, cantaloupe, nectarines, squash
- Yellow lemon, yellow squash, starfruit
- Green asparagus, celery, kale, olives
- Purple blueberries, eggplant, grapes
- White / Tan legumes, garlic, onions.
Eating lean meat
Should you choose to consume meat, avoid processed meat. Ensure your meat is from a source that is grass-fed and free from hormones. Try to reduce the amount of red meat you eat.
Low-fat Dairy foods
Keep in mind that there are also dairy substitutes that may be used in place of low-fat dairy.
If you have a diagnosis of a metabolic condition such as hypertension, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease, your doctor may recommend the DASH diet. It is a relatively simple food plan that may deliver results that goes beyond blood pressure control.
Dr. Eno Nsima-Obot is a board-certified internal medicine physician, a certified functional medicine practitioner, and an award-winning author of a book written for patients titled, “Dr. Eno’s A-to-Z Guide to Thriving with Type 2 Diabetes”. For a free download of the first three chapters to the book, visit www.DoctorEno.com. Follow her on Instagram @doctor_eno, Twitter @doctor_eno, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DoctorEnoNsimaObot and https://www.facebook.com/womenlivingwithdiabetes.