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Eliminate Heart Disease with the Dash Diet

By Tandra K. Haycraft

The DASH diet, or “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” is a diet that was designed with the goal of drastically reducing adherents’ dangerously-high blood pressure levels. 

Specifically, it focuses on cutting out excessive salt intake, as this can make hypertension worse and lead to kidney failure, strokes, blindness, and even heart disease. It can be altered slightly for weight loss goals or to control insulin dependence, but multiple studies have confirmed its effectiveness.

Many adherents to the DASH diet have shown drastic improvement within only a few weeks of beginning. There are two versions of this diet: standard and low-sodium. On the standard version, a dieter is carefully restricted to eating only the daily recommended amount of sodium (salt), or about 2,300 mg daily. 

The low-sodium version is much more restrictive and designed for those who are already on medications for hypertension and/or have developed a blood pressure-related disease. The low-sodium DASH diet restricts intake to 1,500 mg daily.

What the two versions of the diet have in common is that they both encourage reducing your intake of saturated fatstrans fats, and processed foods with excessive sodium.  Instead, adherents are encouraged to enjoy lean meats like:

  • poultry
  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains
  • and low-fat dairy.

It is not overly-restrictive, as dieters can still enjoy sweets, caffeine, alcohol, and foods with oil in moderation.  

Instead of using butter and salt to flavor food, DASH diet adherents are taught to use spices and herbs. Adherents are also encouraged to consume fish regularly, since it is naturally low-fat and low-cholesterol and is filled with omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy heart.

The DASH diet was not designed for weight loss or weight management, nor is it touted as a way to lose weight.  However, it often does help participants control their weight, as many greatly reduce their intake of bad fats and simple carbohydrates. 

Overall, DASH dieters will have the most success controlling both their blood pressure and weight if they commit to a regular exercise program in addition to eating healthier.


The DASH diet is not a fad diet, but is endorsed by both the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. It is advisable, however, to join a support group if you are considering the DASH diet, as it can be much less structured than other diets. 

Some participants may find that getting sound advice and guidance is difficult without a support network or consultations with a physician or Dietitian. Overall, however, the DASH diet can be an excellent remedy to hypertension and heart disease.


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