DASH: A Decade-Old Eating Plan With Staying Power

  • Article
  • December 8, 2016

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan has been around for almost 20 years, but it seems there’s always new research to support it.

DASH is unique – not just for helping maintain blood pressure, but for nutrition, health and great taste through a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Current news and research continues to support its worth, so read on and consider encouraging those you counsel for health and wellness to give DASH a try.

A DASH-style eating pattern emphasizes eating more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, nuts and legumes and lower consumption of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and sodium. DASH is recognized in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a healthy eating plan similar to the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern. Dairy foods like low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese are a fundamental part of DASH just as they are for all of the Dietary Guidelines’ healthy eating styles. The DASH eating plan is also recommended by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association.

DASH tops best diet lists: In 2016, a panel of health experts convened by U.S. News and World Report to evaluate and rank 38 popular diets rated DASH No. 1 as the Best for Healthy Eating and Overall Diet for the sixth year in a row. DASH came in second for Best Diabetes Diet and third for the Heart Healthy category.

DASH is research based: Since the first National Heart Lung and Blood Institute-sponsored clinical trial of the DASH eating plan demonstrated the effectiveness of the DASH combination plan for lowering blood pressure, the DASH way of eating has become an important part of lifestyle modifications recommended for helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Clinical research conducted over the years has demonstrated the effectiveness of DASH for reducing LDL-cholesterol and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, as well as for bone health. Recent research indicates that when children and/or adolescents follow the DASH healthy eating pattern they can lower their risk for developing Metabolic Syndrome or its individual risk factors.

Research confirms the critical role low-fat dairy foods play in lowering systolic blood pressure among adults. Emerging research demonstrates “that the traditional DASH eating plan, when modified to include whole fat milk, yogurt and cheese while reducing refined carbohydrates, could benefit blood pressure and triglycerides, while having no adverse effect on HDL or LDL cholesterol.”

Here are some resources to help educate those you counsel on the DASH eating plan: