The DASH diet was designed to provide liberal amounts of key nutrients thought to play a part in lowering blood pressure, based on past epidemiologic studies. One of the unique features of the DASH study was that dietary patterns rather than single nutrients were being tested. The DASH diet also features a high quotient of anti-oxidant rich foods thought by some to retard or prevent chronic health problems including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
The DASH plan was originally developed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension), but it may also reduce the risk of other diseases, including diabetes. It may have the additional benefit of helping you lose weight. People following the DASH plan are encouraged to reduce portion sizes and eat foods rich in blood pressure-lowering nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
The first stage lasts for two weeks and is expected to reduce your desire for sugar and artificial starch and trigger weight loss. The goal is to reduce fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Emphasis is placed on the consumption of fiber rich, nutrient-dense food. You may eat meat, fish, chicken, vegetable fiber, lean cheese, eggs, fat-free dairy products, healthy, unsaturated fatty acids that can, for example, be found in avocado, nuts, and seeds. Use oil for cooking, for example, olive oil, which contains high levels polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products are major sources of calcium, vitamin D and protein. But the key is to make sure that you choose dairy products that are low fat or fat-free because otherwise they can be a major source of fat — and most of it is saturated. Examples of one serving include 1 cup skim or 1 percent milk, 1 cup low fat yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounces part-skim cheese.