DASH Diet Plan: Improve Overall Health

DASH Diet Plan

1 out of 4 Singaporeans are suffering from Hypertension. In the previous post, it is mentioned that this chronic disease may lead to other severe complications if left untreated. Diet plays an important role in the development of Hypertension. A team of researches come up with a diet, DASH, specially designed to fight Hypertension and reduce the risk of heart diseases.

1. What is DASH?

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is recommended to prevent or treat Hypertension.

2. What can I eat in a DASH diet?

DASH diet focuses on vegetables, fruits, lean protein and wholegrain. Food should be seasoned with herbs and either less salt or no salt (1500mg/day). It emphasizes on consumption of minimally processed and fresh food.

3. What is the typical plan for DASH in a day?

Grains – 6-8 servings
Meat, poultry and fish – 6 or less
Vegetables – 4 -5 servings
Fruit – 4-5 servings
Low-fat or Fat-free dairy products – 2-3 servings
Fats and oil – 2 -3 servings
Nuts, seeds – 2-3 servings per week
Important to have food items lower in saturated and trans-fat. 
Daily calories differs with age group and physical activity but a general population should aim for is 1800 kcal (women), 2000 kcal (men).
Sodium should not exceed 1500mg per day. (2000mg = 1 tsp)

Example of a DASH Meal Plan:

DASH plan

4. What are the benefits of DASH diet apart from Hypertension?

Main health benefits for DASH diet include reducing risk of cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart diseases. Apart from lowering blood pressure, it lowers the LDL cholesterol in our body too!

5. Is it difficult to follow the DASH diet?

No, most of the ingredients can be found readily at the local supermarket. It involves daily servings from different food groups. However, this DASH diet is not a fast and easy weight loss diet that one can achieve in a week. It has to be put into practice like a habit.
Combining exercises and the DASH diet is a good option. Start with a simple 10-minute brisk walk and gradually increase to 30 mins at a go.

6. What are some tips for lifelong success?

It is normal to slip off track occasionally but to get back on track, here are some tips to consider.

  1. Find out what triggered your slip from the DASH diet and restart it back again.
  2. Don’t worry about the sidetrack. Everyone slips, we need to learn how to get back on track. Do it with a buddy.
  3. Avoid changing too much at a go, take small steps and slow change does lead to success.
  4. Write down and keep track of what you eat daily (when snacks). That is when you know how much you have strayed from the diet.
  5. Celebrate success after following the diet for at least 2 weeks! Instead of eating out to celebrate, try going to the movies or shopping.

A healthier choice will slowly make into a healthier habit, and to a healthier you.