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Health Benefits of Following the DASH Diet Jameson Bair Biochemistry Program, Beloit College, Beloit, WI Type of foodNumber of servings for 1600 – 3100 Calorie diets Servings on a 2000 Calorie diet Grains and grain products (include at least 3 whole grain foods each day) 6 - 127 - 8 Fruits 4 - 64 - 5 Vegetables 4 - 64 - 5 Low fat or non fat dairy foods 2 - 42 - 3 Lean meats, fish, poultry 1.5 - 2.52 or less Nuts, seeds, and legumes 3 - 6 per week4 - 5 per week Fats and sweets 2 - 4limited Nutrient1600 kcal/day3100 kcal/day Total Fat 16.5 g128.6 g Saturated Fat4.8 g14.1 g Carbohydrate334 g428 g Sodium1,348 mg1,511 mg Total Fiber43 g69 g Linoleic (Omega-6)2.8 g29.2 g Alpha Linoleic (Omega-3)0.4 g Cholesterol 35 g78 g Vitamin A1,854 mcg1,114 mcg Vitamin C188 mg125 mg Vitamin E10.1 mg63.2 mg Thiamin1.4 mg1.6 mg Riboflavin2 mg4 mg Niacin 15 mg27 mg Protein300 mcg334 mcg Vitamin B61.9 mg2.3 mg Vitamin B123.7 mcg5.3 mcg Phosphorus944 mg1643 mg Iron10.5 mg20.5 mg Potassium3913 mg5559 mg ABSTRACT The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet claims that following the diet created by Marla Heller will lower blood pressure. Previous research has provided evidence of this and other health benefits. I hypothesized that both low and high caloric intake versions of the diet would meet daily nutritional requirements and improve dieters overall health. The research for this project was accomplished by investigating the diet and scientific articles regarding its health benefits. Two versions of the diet (1600 versus 3100 calories per day) are provided in a table. The nutritional values of each version are discussed. The DASH diet lowers blood pressure while also improving bone health and lowering LDL cholesterol. The dieter can meet all daily nutritional requirements. INTRODUCTION Many diets are highly marketable gimmicks that generate fads but often provide mixed or even unhealthy results (Whyte & Marting, 2005). The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) does not fall in this group. Though it is based on published research, the DASH diet is not well known to the public. The diet was conceived by Marla Heller, MS, RN, and is specifically designed to lower blood pressure in 14 days. Unlike many fad diets, the specifics of the DASH diet are presented on its main website, www.dashdiet.org, and a table is presented to inform the dieter of daily servings for each food group (see Table 1). There is no requirement of payment in order to follow the diet. One can choose to purchase the book Heller wrote to provide research data and detailed meal plans for the dieter. According to numerous studies, the DASH diet is an effective means of lowering blood pressure while obtaining other health benefits as well. Specifically, following the DASH diet in conjunction with reducing sodium intake has been found to lower blood pressure (Vollmer et. al., 2001). Mitka (2007) conducted a study that reaffirms the cardiovascular benefits of the DASH diet and examines the implications for the many at-risk patients who do not adhere to it. There is substantial evidence that following the diet lowers LDL cholesterol and improves bone health (Champagne, 2006; Doyle & Cashman, 2004). The phytochemical content of the DASH diet is also higher than the average diet, which may play a role in its many health benefits (Most, 2004). Mitkas assertion that more blood pressure patients should follow the diet but do not is an indication that the diet may be difficult to follow. Nutrition Action Healthletters A DASHing Pyramid representation of the diet suggests otherwise (see Fig. 1). Mitka argues that adherence to the diet is low due to the health systems inability to incorporate the diet into clinical practice. My objective for this project was to create two daily meal plan options for a DASH dieter, one following a strict intake of 1,600 calories and the other a 3,100 calorie intake. My hypothesis is that both meal plan options will meet all the nutritional daily requirements, and that with exercise, the DASH diet can provide the dieter with a healthier lifestyle. DISCUSSION Both versions of the diet contain low levels of sodium, fat, and cholesterol, and they contain high levels of carbohydrates and fiber. The 1,600 calorie/day version of the diet is not recommended for especially large or active people on the diet, such as male athletes. The caloric restriction and reduced saturated fat intake provide an effective means of weight loss, especially in women. Dieters blood pressure should significantly improve within 14 days with the reduced sodium levels (less than the RDI of 2,400 mg), and cholesterol levels and bone health are likely to improve with adherence to the diet. The nutritional values for each version of the diet are also largely consistent, so the DASH diet can appeal to a wider variety of dieters. Drawbacks to the diet include a lack of omega-3. The dieter must choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in order to sustain the nutritional substance of the diet. Limiting choices in fruits and vegetables can cause great variation in the nutritional value of the diet. Supplements may be necessary in order to obtain more desirable levels of nutrients such as omega-3. The diet may also be difficult to maintain; the dieter must be very selective when choosing foods that are both nutritional and low in sodium. CONCLUSION The DASH diet is an effective means of lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol and bone health. Nutritional benefits are also strongly evident. When appropriate, low-sodium foods are chosen by the dieter. The dieter should follow the daily nutritional values of his or her food intake, practice regular exercise, and consider taking dietary supplements where nutrients are lacking. REFERENCES Champagne, C. M. (2006). Dietary interventions on blood pressure: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trials. Nut Rev, 64(2). S53-S56. Doyle, L. & Cashman, K. (2004). The DASH Diet may have beneficial effects on bone health. Nut Rev, 62(5). 215-220. EBSCO Publishing. (2003). A DASHing Pyramid. Nutrition Action Health Letter, 30(4). 8. Mitka, M. (2007). DASH dietary plan could benefit many, but few hypertensive patients follow it. JAMA, 298(2). 164-165. Most, M. (2004). Phytochemical content of the DASH diet. Nutrition Research Newsletter, 23(12). 13- 14. Vollmer, W. M., Sacks, F. M., Ard, J., Appel, L. J., Bray, G. A., Simons-Morton, D. G., Conlin, P. R., Svetkey, L. P., Erlinger, T. P., Moore, T. J., & Karanja, N. (2001). Effects of diet and sodium intake on blood pressure: subgroup analysis of the DASH-sodium trial. Ann Int Med, 135(12). 1019- 1029. Whyte, J. J. & Marting, R. N. (2005). "How to guide patients away from fad diets and toward healthy eating: low-carb, low-fat, and low-calorie diets permeate the popular media, but which diet your patients choose is not as important as the need for them to follow a nutritional plan that results in weight loss." Patient Care 39(5). 16-23. TABLE 1: Daily serving suggestions for each food group, presented at www.dashdiet.org. FIGURE 1: A Dashing Pyramid, a food pyramid representation of the DASH diet. METHOD The information on this poster was compiled from peer-reviewed literature sources and online diet planners (www.dashdiet.org and www.mypyramidtracker.gov). RESULTS Daily nutritional values for the 1,600 and 3,100 calorie versions of the diet are represented in Table 2. Both versions of the diet are comprised of the same foods in varied quantities. Both versions fall within the recommended number of servings range provided by the DASH diet website. Foods included in each version are raw carrots and broccoli with low fat dip, whole grain cereal with raisins, salmon, pears, blueberries, bananas, unsalted almonds, and pumpkin pie. The 3,100 calorie version also includes a serving of roasted, skinless turkey breast and a single serving of frozen yogurt. Table 3 includes the health benefits and drawbacks of each version. ©EBSCO Publishing 2003 TABLE 2: Nutritional facts for the 1,600 calorie/day and 3,100 calorie/day versions of the DASH diet. Health Benefits 1,600 kcal/day DASH diet 3,100 kcal/day DASH diet Lower Blood Pressure yes Improved Bone Health yes Improved Cholesterol yes Healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 Intake Lacks optimum omega- 3 and omega-6 levels Lacks optimum omega-3 levels Vitamins A, Bs, C, and E adequately represented Yes, but supplements may be beneficial Yes, but supplements may be beneficial Metal Intake Dieter may need to monitor iron intake Dieter may need to monitor iron intake Effective means of weight lossyesno TABLE 3: A table of health benefits for each version of the diet, with suggestions and drawbacks for dieters.
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