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DASH DIET: The No-Pain Diet

By Tom Moore, M.D.

A group of researchers from 5 major medical centers found

that eating a specific diet rich in nutrient-dense fruits

and vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy can be a

powerful tool in lowering blood pressure.

The DASH DIET(Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was

found in 1996 to lower blood pressure about the same as a

blood pressure medication would, and since that time has

quickly become one of the most often prescribed diets in

clinical practice today.

The DASH Diet is recommended by the American Heart

Association, in the USDA's 2005 Dietary Guidelines for

Americans, and is featured in the US High Blood Pressure


The DASH DIET Study 459 people were chosen to participate in the DASH DIET Study. They were randomly assigned to one of three different types:

"The "typical American diet"

"A diet with more fruits and vegetables, but otherwise

similar to the typical American diet

"The "DASH diet" - rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat

dairy products; moderate in fish, poultry, and nuts; and

reduced in red meat, sweets, and sugar-sweetened drinks.

To assure they weren't doing anything else that might lower

their blood pressure, participants were asked not to make

any major changes in the physical activity levels during the


Participants were weighed frequently to make sure their

weight stayed constant; if someone gained or lost weight,

they were given a bit less or more food to eat to get their

weight back to what it was.

Salt/sodium intake was the same in all three diets -

slightly lower than the U.S. average, but still higher than

what most guidelines recommended.

The Results

Those who ate the typical American diet did not

see a change in their blood pressure.

Those on the fruit and vegetable diet experienced a

significant lowering of their systolic blood pressure - The

upper number, which is a measurement of blood pressure in

the arteries when the heart contracts to pump out blood -

but little change in their diastolic pressure.

But the men and women who ate the DASH DIET for eight weeks experienced a significant drop in both their systolic and

diastolic blood pressure readings. Changes occurred within a

week of starting the DASH diet, stabilized within two weeks,

and stayed lowered for the remainder of the eight weeks.

On average, blood pressure fell 5.5 mmHg (systolic) and 3.0

mmHg (diastolic) among all participants (including both

those with normal blood pressure and those with


In participants with high blood pressure, blood pressure

dropped an average of 11.4 mmHg (systolic) and 5.5 mmHg


These improvements in blood pressure are about the same as

what can be achieved with a single antihypertensive


There were positive health outcomes of the DASH diet beyond

lowering high blood pressure.

Most importantly, perhaps, the DASH diet lowered the study

participants'cholesterol levels.

When blood cholesterol is high, cholesterol and other fatty

substances collect on the walls of your blood vessels and in

time restrict or block the flow of blood to your heart.

High cholesterol, which is generally caused by a diet high

in saturated fats, is a major risk factor for heart disease.

The DASH diet is low in total and saturated fat.

People who ate the diet during the study, dropped their

cholesterol 14 points. The "bad" cholesterol (LDL) fell 11

points. The level of good cholesterol (HDL) also fell by 3.7

points (this type of drop in HDL is seen when people reduce

their overall fat intake). Combining all the effects

(changes in blood pressure, LDL, and HDL), there was an

important improvement in overall cardiac risk with the DASH


A later study was done at the Boston University Medical

Center, which offered the DASH Diet in an online form to

employees of a large US company.

Over 4,000 people enrolled in the DASH DIET program.

They received weekly email reminders to log in to the site

for information on topics such as weight loss, exercise,

reading food labels, grocery shopping and more.

They also were encouraged to track the changes they made to their diet, exercise, weight and blood pressure online.

After one year in the DASH DIET program, study participants

had lost weight and lowered their blood pressure


They started eating more fruits and vegetables and moved

from higher fat dairy products to lower fat versions.

After the success of the DASH DIET program, the researchers

decided to offer the program to the general population

online at DASH DIET

The reason the researchers think that the DASH DIET is

perfect for all Americans is that it doesn't take a whole

lot of learning.

It deals with real foods that are easily found in every

grocery store across America, and allows dieters to choose

how they plan to meet their food servings goals with foods

that they enjoy.

About The Author

Tom Moore, MD is the founder of the Dash For Health

program and the author of the best-selling book: THE DASH DIET FOR

HYPERTENSION. Find out how you can lose weight painlessly by claiming your free DASH eating profile


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