'Life-saving' diet

By ninemsn staff Air date: Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's been hailed worldwide at the diet that could save your life, by helping you manage cholesterol and blood pressure as well as lose weight. We put the DASH diet to the test to see why it has taken the US by storm.

Increasingly, Australians are relying on blood pressure medications to control their condition. But the DASH Diet outlines a natural way to help lower blood pressure and shed kilos at the same time.

Originally researchers designed the diet to reduce hyper tension, but they also found the healthy eating plan helped patients shed the kilos.

For a healthy person, blood pressure should be around 120 over 80, but people most at risk could have blood pressure around 190 over 100.

The crux of the DASH diet is cutting salt, one of the main contributors to high blood pressure.

Some of the foods on the DASH diet menu:

- Oatmeal, yoghurt and juice
- Chicken salad
- Gilled fish, vegies
- Wholegrain bread
- Raw nuts and fruit.


The DASH Diet Eating Plan

US News & World Reports:
Ranked #1, Best and Healthiest Diet Plan

Why did the DASH diet get ranked as the Best diet and the Healthiest diet two years in a row? The expert panel in US New & World Reports chose DASH because it is a balanced plan, proven to improve health. It helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and is associated with lower risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney stones, and reduced risk of developing diabetes. You actually become healthier as you lose weight. And now, there is a best-selling new edition of the book, The DASH Diet Action Plan.

The DASH diet is physician-recommended for people with hypertension (high blood pressure) or prehypertension. The DASH diet eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). In addition to being a low salt (or low sodium) plan, the DASH diet provides additional benefits to reduce blood pressure. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy, with whole grains. It is a high fiber, low to moderate fat diet, rich in potasium, calcium, and magnesium. The full DASH diet plan is shown below. The DASH diet is a healthy plan, designed for the whole family. New research continues to show additional health benefits of the plan. Read about one reader's inspiring journey with the DASH diet and weight loss on Facebook.

In addition to being recommended by your physician, DASH is also endorsed by:

  • The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (one of the National Institutes of Health, of the US Department of Health and Human Services)
  • The American Heart Association (AHA)
  • The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • US guidelines for treatment of high blood pressure
  • The 2011 AHA Treatment Guidelines for Women
  • The Mayo Clinic.


The DASH eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in just 14 days, even without lowering sodium intake. Best response came in people whose blood pressure was only moderately high, including those with prehypertension. For people with more severe hypertension, who may not be able to eliminate medication, the DASH diet can help improve response to medication, and help lower blood pressure. The DASH diet can help lower cholesterol, and with weight loss and exercise, can reduce insulin resistance and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

The NY Times Best Seller, The DASH Diet Action Plan, provides real life solutions to make it easy for people to follow the DASH diet. It has 28 days of meal plans (with adjustments for various calorie levels), recipes, guidance for weight loss, how to eat at restaurants, fast food places, etc. and still stay on track. It shows you how to stock up your kitchen for the DASH diet, and how to read food labels to make good choices. And, of course, the meal plans and recipes are all low sodium/low salt. The book shows you how to add exercise and other lifestyle changes to help lower blood pressure. This book helps you design your own personal "DASH Diet Action Plan."

New research shows that following the DASH diet over time will reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as kidney stones. The benefits of the DASH diet have also been seen in teens with hypertension. The DASH diet truly is the diet for everyone.

Specifically the DASH diet plan includes:


Type of food

Number of servings for 1600 - 3100 Calorie diets

Servings on a 2000 Calorie diet

Grains and grain products
(include at least 3 whole grain foods each day)

6 - 12

7 - 8


4 - 6

4 - 5


4 - 6

4 - 5

Low fat or non fat dairy foods

2 - 4

2 - 3

Lean meats, fish, poultry

1.5 - 2.5

2 or less

Nuts, seeds, and legumes

3 - 6 per week

4 - 5 per week

Fats and sweets

2 - 4


Even though most people know that this seems like a very healthy way of eating, they initially may find it hard to implement and sustain. The average American gets 2 - 3 servings of fruits and vegetables combined each day, so following the DASH diet can involve making a concerted effort. The book makes it easier. It helps you with simple lifestyle changes and strategies to make new habits that you will keep for a lifetime.

Although weight loss was not a part of the original DASH diet research, the book provides guidance and plans for adapting the DASH diet for successful weight loss. Many women need to follow a lower calorie diet in order to lose weight, so we include a 1200-calorie version of the DASH diet. Although this book was not intended to be an aggressive weight loss program, many of our readers have reported 10 - 35 pound weight loss in a few months. One of our readers recently posted her weight loss journey with the DASH diet on Facebook.

The design of the meal plans in the book are based on newer research on how to make satisfying meals, helping to prevent between meal hunger. That is a key feature of high-fiber, low caloric-density, balanced meals with appropriate serving sizes.