A Healthier U

The DASH Eating Pattern
By Rebecca Moore, PEAK nutrition graduate student

Popular culture inundates Americans with new diets and eating trends every year. Many of these diets offer quick fixes and results that are too good to be true. But is there a diet style that is both healthy and maintainable? In working with clients and studying scientific nutrition data, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is one of the best.

Fresh ingredients for preparing roasted mixed vegetables on the table.

The DASH diet was developed in 1992. Marla Heller, who has a master’s degree and is a registered dietitian, founded the program. She is also the author of the three different books available for purchase through the official website. The books focus on “younger you,” “weight loss solution” and “action plan” respectively. There is also a cookbook to help clients prepare meals that follow the DASH guidelines.

This balanced dietary pattern was developed to reduce blood pressure, but has since been shown to also improve bone health, reduce serum LDL cholesterol levels, benefit brain health and improve mood. Because the diet is not restrictive in nature, it is maintainable.

The following table shows the recommended diet composition of the DASH program:

Whole grains                          7-8 servings daily
Fruits                          4-5 servings daily
Vegetables                          4-5 servings daily
Meat/poultry/fish                          <2 servings daily
Low-fat or fat-free dairy                          2-3 servings daily
Nuts/seeds/legumes                          4-5 servings weekly
Salt                          Restricted to a level that matches client goals
Fats and sweets                          Limited

Nutritional lifestyle modifications promoted by DASH coupled with regular exercise prove to be very helpful in weight maintenance and the aforementioned lowering of disease risk.


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