Some of the most important health benefits of the DASH diet include its ability to lower blood pressure, aid in weight loss efforts, boost heart health, slow down the progression of cancer and osteoporosis, protect your kidneys, and help you to avoid diabetes.
The DASH Diet
There seem to be a great number of diets and fads out there that promise to deliver a wide range of health benefits, and while many of them are unproven, the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has drawn quite a bit of attention and popularity, as well as sponsorship from the American Heart Association and the US Guidelines for the treatment of high blood pressure. Essentially, the DASH Diet was originally conceived as a way to lower blood pressure (hypertension) but has since been recognized as being beneficial for a wide array of health concerns. The diet is based on consuming a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, protein, nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.
Initially, the diet included a number of starchy foods that were considered “empty” carbohydrates, but the diet has been updated since then and has proven to have even better results, replacing those empty carbs with foods rich in protein and good fats. The diet is also high in fiber foods and provides the proper balance between sodium, vitamins, and minerals to improve hypertension in the body. Given the wide popularity of the DASH Diet, perhaps we should see why it has received so much attention.
Health Benefits of the DASH Diet
Let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of the DASH Diet.
Lowers Blood Pressure
The original intention of the diet was to lower hypertension, as the name implies, and it does this by closely monitoring your intake of salt, which can significantly increase blood pressure. The diet also helps to balance the level of cholesterol and dangerous fats in your system, thus preventing atherosclerosis, which can tighten arteries and boost blood pressure, thus putting a strain on the cardiovascular system.
Weight Loss Efforts
Although the diet wasn’t designed for weight loss, that is certainly one of the side effects, namely because of the elimination of empty carbs, which provide empty calories and increase glucose instability within the body, which can lead to diabetes. By focusing on vegetables, fruits, protein, and heart-healthy fats, you can quell your hunger, reduce caloric intake, and cut back on obesity.
The reason that blood pressure is so dangerous is due to its impact on the heart. By putting excess strain on the blood vessels and arteries of the cardiovascular system, high blood pressure can significantly increase your chances of strokes and heart attacks. Furthermore, the high-fiber diet and balanced cholesterol levels will cut down on plaque build-up in the heart, which lowers the chances of heart disease and other complications in that vital organ system.
The composition of the DASH Diet means a high content of calcium, protein, and potassium, all of which are essential for preventing or slowing the onset of osteoporosis. By helping to build strong bones, the food of the DASH Diet, such as milk, lean proteins, grains, leafy vegetables, and fruits, all contribute to the large concentration of these nutrients. If you want to build strong bones while also reaping all these other benefits, then subscribing to the DASH Diet is a very good idea.
The DASH Diet has been directly linked to the prevention of kidney stones, which can be very painful and compromise the proper function of the organ. The composition of the diet prevents the excess deposits of minerals that lead to kidney stones. High sodium intake is also a common factor that leads to kidney failure, as it can dehydrate the body and overwork the kidneys. The National Kidney Foundation has stated the potential value of the DASH Diet for those at high risk of kidney failure. However, if you already suffer from chronic kidney disease, you require a more controlled diet and should speak with your doctor before adopting any new diet.
One of the other side benefits of the DASH Diet is its undeniable impact on certain cancers. A report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that conformance to the DASH diet (comprising higher intakes of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables; average quantity of low-fat dairy; and lower amounts of red or processed meats, desserts, and sweetened beverages), will result in a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
The high content of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains means a high concentration of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, which can prevent the impact of free radicals – the byproducts of cellular respiration that can cause mutation in healthy cells and lead to the spread of cancer.
Reduce the risk of Diabetes
By eliminating the empty carbohydrates and starchy foods from your diet, as in the revised version of the DASH Diet, you can avoid the simple sugars that the body can easily absorb and send into the bloodstream. According to the American Diabetes Association, adherence to the DASH dietary pattern, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products is likely to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that consumption of food rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as the DASH diet helps to prevent the late onset of depression.
A Final Word of Warning: If you suffer from a chronic disease, it is important to speak with your medical professional or a nutritionist before making any drastic changes to your diet. Nutrition is a key factor for all health concerns, but changing your diet can be disastrous unless done carefully.