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DASH Diet: Main Image

Why Do People Follow This Diet?

The DASH diet lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, and improves insulin sensitivity. For these reasons, many doctors recommend it to people at risk for heart disease or diabetes. Because it is a well-balanced diet low in animal fats and high in nutrient-rich foods and fiber, it has also been recommended as an eating guide for all people. Since most people will eat fewer calories when following the DASH diet, could also be used as a weight-loss and weight-maintenance diet.

What Do the Advocates Say?

The DASH diet is a heart-healthy diet designed to increase intake of nutrients (such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium) that should help lower blood pressure. Controlled studies have found that decreases in high blood pressure may begin within two weeks of starting the diet. In addition, blood levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol may begin to lower within two months.

Consuming less salt when following the DASH diet is even more effective for lowering blood pressure, and a salt-controlled DASH diet further improves heart disease and diabetes risk factors such as unstable blood sugar, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol levels in people who have the insulin-resistance (metabolic) syndrome. This diet has also been shown to improve indicators of osteoporosis risk.

What Do the Critics Say?

There is no known criticism of the DASH diet. In some people, the DASH diet may lower HDL (“good”) as well as LDL (“bad”) and cholesterol, but the overall effect remains a heart-healthy one.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2016.

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