Originally developed by American health experts to lower blood pressure, the hugely-popular DASH diet is now heading across the Atlantic.
The DASH Diet has been touted as one of the best weight-loss regimes around, having impressed many American health experts.
But what exactly is it, and why does it have the health world buzzing? DASH stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’. It was conceived by a group of American scientists and nutritionists looking for a safe way to lower blood pressure quickly.
The diet does just that, but it also does much more, with research suggesting that the DASH diet can help the sufferers of other chronic conditions (including gout, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer). It also works for those simply looking to shed a few pounds!
So how does it work? Unlike other faddy diets, DASH promotes a healthy long-term lifestyle for everyone. Exercise is key, and there are no ‘quick fix’ low-carb or fasting plans. Instead, DASH is an eating plan that only allows ‘real’ or ‘natural’ foods.
Plenty of nutritious fruits and vegetables are on the DASH diet menu, along with low-fat and non-fat dairy, nuts, beans and seeds. Followers limit their intake of salt, sweets and foods high in saturated fats. It’s been called an “Americanised version of the Mediterranean diet”.
So if you’re looking to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol levels, or simply want to shed a few extra pounds, why not try the DASH diet?
Keep reading to discover more about the DASH diet – including a delicious grilled chicken skewers recipe that’s so tasty, you’d never guess it was a diet food!
- DASHers believe that nature provides everything that humans need. American research backs up this claim.
- Processed, man-made foods - even those touted as 'healthy' - are completely out. If the ingredients list is longer than your shopping list (or complete jargon), it should stay on the shelf.
- Cooking varied, healthy, seasonal food from scratch is key.
Forty years ago, supermarkets were in their infancy and air-freighted produce - along with convenience food - was unheard of. Food had to be local and seasonal. The DASH diet encourages a return to this 'real' food.
According to Snyder, Clum and Zulaica, authors of The DASH Diet Cookbook, we should be "eating the colours of the rainbow at every meal". This means stocking up on:
- Seasonal fruit and vegetables
- Pure whole grains, beans, lentils and pulses
- Low fat and non-fat dairy, plus natural dairy-free alternatives such as almond milk
- Fresh, lean protein (fish, meat etc.)
- Plenty of water
They also recommend using a digital scale to measure foods before tucking in to ensure you don't over eat.
Snyder, Clum and Zulaica favour farmers and seasonal markets over supermarket shopping, asserting that the produce is much more likely to be locally grown, fresh and seasonal. If that's not an option mid-week, stick to the fruit, veg, meat and dairy aisles at the supermarket. Venture any further in and you may well be tempted by processed, packaged food.
Exercise is also an integral part of the DASH diet. Try to work out at least three times a week, alternating cardio (walking, running, cycling etc.) with strength training and flexibility (e.g. a yoga class) for the best results.
Try The DASH Diet Cookbook recipe for grilled chicken skewers marinated in ginger-apricot sauce.
Cutting out processed foods will cause your sodium intake to drop, helping you to lower your blood pressure naturally, which can only be a good thing!