Whom Is the DASH Diet Good for Exactly, and What Types Are Available?
The DASH diet was developed specifically to help people lower high blood pressure and is promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure readings higher than 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for systolic blood pressure and higher than 80 mm Hg for diastolic are considered high.
The food options available on the DASH diet closely mirror the eating plan recommended in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, with a focus on whole foods, such as fruit and veggies; fat-free or low-fat dairy; whole grains; and lean meats, fish, and poultry. Meanwhile, the plan requires cutting back on, or preferably eliminating, processed foods, like sugary drinks and packaged snacks, and limiting red meat, which in excess has been linked to poorer heart health and heart failure, according to a past study.
The DASH diet specifically meets the low-sodium (salt) requirements that can give people an edge over hypertension. This means it’s a great diet for people who have high blood pressure or have a personal or family history of heart disease, as well as those individuals who may be at risk for type 2 diabetes or are currently managing the condition.