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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How can I make the DASH diet tastier?

While the DASH diet includes solid nutrition recommendations, it can be hard for someone new to these recommendations to make food palatable. We are used to sugar and salt as the major "flavors" of our meals. To make the healthy foods in the DASH diet more appealing, be generous with herbs and spices. There are a number of salt-free spice blends that can be used for many recipes. Some options include

  • herbs de Provence blends,
  • Italian herb blend, Indian
  • curry blend, and
  • Baja fish taco blend (check that they are salt-free or you are derailing your good efforts).

These spice blends can be sprinkled on proteins while grilling, turned into a salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar, or sprinkled on a sandwich to reduce the mayonnaise or cheese we typically add for flavor.

What heart-healthy lifestyle interventions are part of the DASH diet?

While the original DASH diet research didn't include other lifestyle changes, it makes sense to include them, and the combination has since been researched and shown to be effective.

Physical activity and high blood pressure

It is important to be physically active every day, such as taking a walk after dinner. The more activity and exercise a person does the more benefits the body receives. As we exercise, the muscles demand oxygen, and nitric oxide is released to relax the blood vessels to allow more blood and oxygen in. Over time, this becomes a permanent effect, lowering blood pressure even when you are not physically active. For blood pressure and weight loss, physical activity should include regular walking, dancing, swimming, cycling, or other cardiovascular (aerobic) activity, but it also should include some strength training. Building more muscle through weight or strength training has the best effect on weight loss and increasing metabolism.3

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/10/2016

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