DASH (High-Plant) Diet

DASH (High-Plant) Diet for Heart Health, Weight Loss and Diabetes 

Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

Reports from Harvard School of Public Health shows that a diet rich 
in plants lowers high blood pressure (1,2). It's called the DASH 
diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.) Other studies show 
that similar eating patterns lower cholesterol, help to control 
diabetes and cause weight loss in people who are overweight.

It took only two weeks for the diet to have an effect and after 
eight weeks, 70 percent of those eating the DASH diet had normal 
blood pressures, compared to 45 percent on the fruits-and-vegetables 
diet and 23 percent on the control diet. The authors feel that 
increasing minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium lowers 
high blood pressure perhaps by suppressing calcium regulating 
hormones that close blood vessels. The diet appears to act the same 
way as the diuretics that are the most common drugs prescribed to 
control blood pressure: it gets rid of excess sodium (1a).

Most people will not have their high blood pressure lowered just by 
restricting salt. These studies show that a diet to lower high blood 
pressure should be rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, contain 
beans, seeds, nuts and low-fat dairy products, and limit everything 
else. Here's a day on the DASH diet: 

8 servings of grains
5 servings of vegetables
5 servings of fruit
2-3 servings of skim or low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese
5 servings per week of nuts, seeds or beans
1-2 servings of meat, poultry or fish
restrict sweets and fats

You should immediately notice that this is basically the diet that 
I have recommended for more than 30 years. Here's my modified DASH 
diet for total heart health: to lower cholesterol and blood 
pressure, control weight, and prevent or control diabetes.

About 8 servings of WHOLE grains (not flour)
At least 5 vegetables
At least 5 fruits 
Up to 3 fat free dairy products (optional)
Up to 2 servings of seafood (I recommend that you avoid meat from 
Beans or legumes (no limit)
1-2 tablespoons nuts or snack seeds
Up to 3 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
Minimal added sugars (none if diabetic or trying to lose weight)

Note: Serving sizes are typically 1/2 cup of cooked foods, 1 cup of 
raw fruits or vegetables.

To see if you are among the eighty percent of people who can control 
blood pressure with this diet, try my SHOW ME! diet for just two 
weeks. You (and your doctor) will be amazed. 

1A) July 2003 issue of Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart 

1) PR Conlin, D Chow, ER Miller, LP Svetkey, PH Lin, DW Harsha, TJ 
Moore, FM Sacks, LJ Appel. The effect of dietary patterns on blood 
pressure control in hypertensive patients: Results from the Dietary 
Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trial. American Journal of Hypertension, 2000, Vol 13, Iss 9, pp 949-955.

2) LM Resnick, S Oparil, A Chait, RB Haynes, P KrisEtherton, 
JS Stern, S Clark, S Holcomb, DC Hatton, JA Metz, M McMahon, 
FX PiSunyer, DA McCarron. Factors affecting blood pressure responses 
to diet: The vanguard study. American Journal of Hypertension, 2000, 
Vol 13, Iss 9, pp 956-965Address

3)Circulation. September, 2000

Checked 12/21/11