If the DASH diet brings to mind confusion with a touch of familiarity, same. It feels like one of those healthy eating plans that has been around in the background forever, like Atkins, but that I never really knew much about. Honestly if someone before today had asked me, a wellness writer, if I knew what DASH diet stands for (and even what it was), I would have made a lame pun and then evaded the question by pulling up a picture of my foster dog.
But we all might have majorly screwed up by sleeping on the DASH diet. Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, breaks down what you need to know on the latest episode of Well+Good’s YouTube series You Versus Food. “The word diet has gotten a bad rap lately, with good reason. But when the word diet is used to describe adhering to a certain way of eating that makes your insides feel better and prevents health problems and long-term issues, that’s the kind of diet I can stand behind,” Beckerman says. And that’s exactly what the DASH diet is.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and it’s a way of eating that helps prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. Blood pressure, she explains, is the speed at which blood moves through your veins; high blood pressure can damage the heart, weaken blood vessels, and increase the risk of stroke if gone unchecked. “Research shows that high blood pressure is less prevalent in plant-based eaters, and that sodium intake can worsen hypertension,” she says. Those are the main principles upon which the DASH diet is based.
The eating plan is particular about sodium intake; it calls for no more than a teaspoon (or 2,300 milligrams) of sodium per day. But sodium is sneaky, and shows up in foods you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like cereal. That’s why the diet also recommends limiting the amount of processed foods you consume.
However, unlike other eating plans (cough, keto, cough) it doesn’t restrict any particular macronutrient, so there are plenty of options for food that is recommended on the diet—and you don’t have to go to a specialty store to find them.
Watch the video above to get more info about the DASH diet, including the foods to eat and the foods to avoid.
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