The DASH Diet

  • Medical Author:
    Erica Oberg, ND, MPH

    Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What is the DASH diet?

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and the diet was developed for a research study in the early 1990s.1 The purpose of the study was to identify a food-based strategy to lower blood pressure. Even though the original research was quite a long time ago, scientists recently conducted a meta-analysis for a DASH diet review to summarize how much blood pressure can be reduced by the DASH diet. The study found, on average, people reduce their blood pressure by 6.7 mmHg systolic and 3.5 mmHg diastolic in just two weeks. The more sodium is restricted, the lower blood pressure goes.

Or more simply stated, the DASH diet plan includes eating more

  • fruits and vegetables,
  • low-fat or nonfat dairy,
  • beans, and
  • nuts.

And eating less

Since the original research, scientists also have found that they could apply the DASH diet plan for weight loss.2 When people follow the Dash diet in addition to increasing exercise, they lose weight and improve metabolic measures such as insulin sensitivity. However, in comparison to low-carbohydrate diets, the DASH diet alone was not as effective a strategy for weight loss. When the DASH diet is followed along with exercise and caloric reduction, people improved their blood pressure even more; lowering it by 16 mmHg systolic and 9mmHg diastolic; plus, they lost some weight.2 As people adopt the DASH diet and lower their blood pressure, they may have a reduced need for medication. Discuss the diet-based changes you are making with your health-care professional, and if your blood pressure is at or below goal (<140/80), you can discuss reducing your medications and maintaining your blood pressure with diet alone.

What is the recommended daily allowance of sodium?

The National Institutes of Health's 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 2,300 mg of salt each day as part of a healthy diet.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/10/2016

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