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