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The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution

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Expert Health Information -

Member of the American Dietetic Association

Member, International Association of Culinary Professionals

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The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,

Recommend the DASH Eating Plan

The US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recommend the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are updated every 5 years, and the 2010 Guidelines continue to be the subject of much discussion. These guidelines recognize that the US is in the middle of an obesity epidemic, which is causing increasing rates of diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. The guidelines say that the DASH eating plan "embodies" the Dietary Guidelines.

What are the key recommendations? Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Clearly this is a major public health issue for the US. In addition to weight loss, the guidelines recognize that we need to be consuming foods that are more nutritious, without being overly high in calories. The model eating plans are the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the USDA Food Guide.

The recommendations encourage people to include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. The guidance also recommends reducing intake of added sugars, solid fats, refined grains, and sodium. They noted that currently SoFAS (solid fats and added sugars) comprise about 35% of the calories in the typical American diet. That is a significant contributor of empty calories, devoid of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This translates into a diet that is too high in calories and deficient in many key nutrients.

The DASH diet continues to be a model plan, incorporating all of the objectives of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It was developed in research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, entitled "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" or DASH. The DASH diet is an eating plan that has been studied as a way to reduce blood pressure without medication, and was designed to be a model American diet, with enough flexibility to meet the needs of most people.

2010 Dietary Guidelines

Balancing Calories to Manage Weight

  1. Prevent and/or reduce overweight and obesity through improved eating and physical activity behaviors.
  2. Control total calorie intake to manage body weight. For people who are overweight or obese, this will mean consuming fewer calories from foods and beverages.
  3. Increase physical activity and reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors.
  4. Maintain appropriate calorie balance during each stage of life--childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and older age.

Foods and Food Components to Reduce

  1. Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg and further reduce intake to 1,500 among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney diseases. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.
  2. Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  3. Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
  4. Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.
  5. Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.
  6. limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.
  7. If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation--up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men--and only by adults of legal drinking age.

Foods and Nutrients to Increase

Individuals should meet the following recommendations as part of a healthy eating pattern while staying within their calorie needs.

  1. Increase vegetable and fruit intake.
  2. Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.
  3. Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
  4. Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.
  5. Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  6. Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
  7. Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.
  8. Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
  9. Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.

Building Healthy Eating Patterns

  1. Select an eating pattern that meets nutrients needs over time at an appropriate calorie level.
  2. Account for all foods and beverages consumed and assess who they fit within a total healthy eating pattern.
  3. Follow food safety recommendations when preparing and eating foods to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Recommendations for specific population groups

Women capable of becoming pregnant

  1. Choose foods that supply heme iron, which is more readily absorbed by the body, additional iron sources, and enhancers of iron absorption such as vitamin C-rich foods.
  2. Consume 400 mcg per day of synthetic folic acid (from fortified foods and/or supplements) in addition to food forms of folate from a varied diet.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

  1. Consume 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week from a variety of seafood types.
  2. Due to their high methyl mercury content, limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week and do not eat the following four types of fish: tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
  3. If pregnant, take an iron supplement, as recommended by and obstetrician or other health care provider.

Individuals ages 50 years and older

  1. Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals, or dietary supplements.



The DASH Eating Plan

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan is recommended to help lower blood pressure by the National Institutes of Health and most physicians. The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy, and also includes grains, especially whole grains; lean meats, fish and poultry; nuts and beans. In addition to lowering blood pressure, it has been shown to lower cholesterol. It is an extremely healthy way of eating, designed to be flexible enough to meet the lifestyle and food preferences of most people.

The book was written to make it easy-to-follow, since, without help, the DASH Diet can seem complicated for people to envision in their hectic lives. This book provides real life solutions. It goes beyond "what" is involved with the DASH diet; it also shows you "how." How to follow the DASH diet in restaurants, how to lose weight, how to make over your kitchen, how to fit in exercise, how to reduce salt intake, how to add vegetables even if you "hate" vegetables. And the book helps you make your own personal plan with specific steps you will take to fit the DASH diet into your daily routine.


Type of food

Number of servings for 1600 - 3100 Calorie diets

Servings on a 2000 Calorie diet


4 - 6

4 - 5


4 - 6

4 - 5

Low fat and nonfat dairy

2 - 4

2 - 3

Beans and nuts

3 - 6 per week

4 - 5 per week

Lean meats, fish, poultry

1½ - 2½

2 or less

Grains ( at least 3 whole grains per day)

6 - 12

7 - 8

Fats and sweets

2 - 4




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