The DASH diet

Abstract by: Sheila Kun RN, BSN, BA, MS

While reviewing the dietary strategy to combat insulin resistance, a 10 week plan, we came across the mention of the DASH diet. I thought it might be worthwhile to understand this important diet and its origin. The DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet focuses on lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. In also includes some fish, legumes, and poultry, as well as moderate amounts of nuts and seeds.

An initial study in 1997 by the DASH Collaborative Research Group had a group of adults follow a typical American diet for 3 weeks, then assigned them to 8 weeks of either a diet higher in fruits and vegetables or one with more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lower saturated and total fat. Both groups improved blood pressure, but the group with he added low-fat dairy and controlled fat intake made greater improvements. Subsequent studies also noted improvements in insulin sensitivity and reduction in insulin levels when a DASH diet is introduced.

The DASH diet suggests the following amounts:

  • Whole grains: 6-8 daily servings
  • Lean meats or fish: 6 or fewer daily servings
  • Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings
  • Fruits: 4-5 daily servings
  • Lean dairy products: 2-3 daily servings
  • Fats and soils: 2-3 or fewer daily servings
  • Nuts, seeds, or legumes: 4-5 weekly servings
  • Sweets and added sugars: 5 or fewer weekly servings

It seems like the DASH diet is a reasonable approach for us and provides healthy choices for us to consider in our daily meal planning.

Sheila’s note: The exact amount per serving is not well described in the DASH diet. I did search for further clarification via the internet; it is not totally clear to me as not much detail is described. The only clarification was on the lean meat portion: one serving is described as an ounce. Hence the best way to interpret the DASH data is to look at the big picture of the type recommended in your diet choice and choose among grain, fruit, vegetable, lean meat and low-fat dairy in your daily meal plan.

Your homework from the Care Ministry this week: consider the DASH diet and see how it fits into your own meal planning.

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