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DASH INTO HEALTH

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:05pm

By Marie Dufour, RD – The word “DIET,” somehow, is understood as restrictive, rigid, and is usually associated with the concept of weight loss.  Perhaps the little kid in us still needs this narrow guidance or perhaps, feeling guilty about our weight gain, we look for punishment (or redemption) in the constraint of “WEIGHT LOSS DIETS.”  With blinders on, we concentrate on a single aspect of the allowed food chart (“no this, no that”), and we obsess about one single outcome: weight loss.  The associated consequences hardly matter to us; we just want the pounds to disappear.  So we reach for the most publicized miracle DIET, at the risk of damaging our overall health.  We are one complex psychological stew.

 The original Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) studies, published in 2000, determined that eating high amounts of fruits and vegetables, grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, nuts, legumes and limiting processed foods and salt played a significant role in lowering high blood pressure.

 Over the years, studies following the DASH report have confirmed and expanded the health benefits of the DASH plans.  Not only do they lower blood pressure, but also decrease insulin resistance, help lower cholesterol levels, and contribute to weight loss.  The latest study also associates the DASH diet to better cognitive function of older adults (slow-down of Alzheimer’s onset).

 The DASH eating plans are modular, according to an individual’s caloric needs.  They recommend 6-12 servings of grains; 4-6 of fruit; 4-6 of vegetables, 2-4 of low fat dairy, 2 or fewer of lean meat a day, and 3-6 of nuts and legumes a week.  The less salt, the better improvement of hypertension.

While we are looking for the magic pill (that super-omega-3, the ultimate anti-oxidant) to keep us in optimal general health, researchers have observed the combined effect of the DASH plan, “greater than the sum of its parts.”

 When barely one quarter of Americans eat four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day (combined) and consume an ever greater amount of processed foods (therefore, sodium), the DASH plan is one more tool in the consumer’s bag of tricks to make healthful eating decisions.

 For more info on the DASH plans, visit dashdiet.org

 reference:  Wengreen H, et al “DASH diet adherence scores and cognitive decline and dementia among aging men and women: Cache County study of Memory Health and Aging” ICAD 2009; p. 24.

Filed under: community nutrition, diet, childhood obesity, community nutrition, dairy products, DASH diet, diet, healthy lifestyle, healthy living, heart health, High blood pressure, hypertension, low-salt diet, Marie Dufour RD, nutrition, obesity, public health, weight control, weight loss

By Marie Dufour, RD – The word “DIET,” somehow, is understood as restrictive, rigid, and is usually associated with the concept of weight loss.  Perhaps the little kid in us still needs this narrow guidance or perhaps, feeling guilty about our weight gain, we look for punishment (or redemption) in the constraint of “WEIGHT LOSS DIETS.”  With blinders on, we concentrate on a single aspect of the allowed food chart (“no this, no that”), and we obsess about one single outcome: weight loss.  The associated consequences hardly matter to us; we just want the pounds to disappear.  So we reach for the most publicized miracle DIET, at the risk of damaging our overall health.  We are one complex psychological stew.

 The original Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) studies, published in 2000, determined that eating high amounts of fruits and vegetables, grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, nuts, legumes and limiting processed foods and salt played a significant role in lowering high blood pressure.

 Over the years, studies following the DASH report have confirmed and expanded the health benefits of the DASH plans.  Not only do they lower blood pressure, but also decrease insulin resistance, help lower cholesterol levels, and contribute to weight loss.  The latest study also associates the DASH diet to better cognitive function of older adults (slow-down of Alzheimer’s onset).

 The DASH eating plans are modular, according to an individual’s caloric needs.  They recommend 6-12 servings of grains; 4-6 of fruit; 4-6 of vegetables, 2-4 of low fat dairy, 2 or fewer of lean meat a day, and 3-6 of nuts and legumes a week.  The less salt, the better improvement of hypertension.

While we are looking for the magic pill (that super-omega-3, the ultimate anti-oxidant) to keep us in optimal general health, researchers have observed the combined effect of the DASH plan, “greater than the sum of its parts.”

 When barely one quarter of Americans eat four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day (combined) and consume an ever greater amount of processed foods (therefore, sodium), the DASH plan is one more tool in the consumer’s bag of tricks to make healthful eating decisions.

 For more info on the DASH plans, visit dashdiet.org

 reference:  Wengreen H, et al “DASH diet adherence scores and cognitive decline and dementia among aging men and women: Cache County study of Memory Health and Aging” ICAD 2009; p. 24.

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