What is the DASH Diet?
The DASH Diet's original purpose was to help treat hypertension, hence why the acronym DASH actually stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. So you may be wondering why we have a whole section about the DASH diet under the prediabetes page. Well, research shows that the DASH diet can be useful in treating many chronic conditions because the components are generally aligned with a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet.
How does the DASH Diet help with prediabetes?
Research shows that the DASH Diet can be an effective eating plan to help reverse prediabetes. Not only does the DASH diet help with lowering blood pressure, but it can also help with improving weight, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia. The DASH plan has also been shown to lessen hyperglycemic episodes, which means overall better blood sugar regulation. The general principles of the dash diet are increasing consumption of nutrient-dense foods, and decreasing highly processed foods. The foods and serving sizes encouraged to follow a 2,000 calorie DASH Diet are listed below. Keep in mind, these servings are not appropriate for everyone. Working with a nutritionist or dietitian will help you determine the appropriate servings for you!
- Fruits: 3-4 servings/day. Some examples of fruit include melons, berries, grapes, apples, and pears. Fruits usually require little-to-no preparation and provide us with tons of vitamins and minerals. A typical fruit serving is about 1 small whole fruit, 1/2 large whole fruit, or 1 cup.
- Vegetables: 4-5 servings/day. Some examples of vegetables are tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, eggplant, and greens. You can eat vegetables raw or cooked. The recommended serving size is 1 cup for leafy greens and 1/2 cup for all other vegetables.
- Whole grains: 6-8 servings/day. Grains include bread, rice, pasta, cereal, and other ancient grains. We recommend opting for whole grains wherever possible. Examples include 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta. A serving size for grains would be 1 slice or 1/2 cup cooked.
- low-fat dairy: 2-3 servings/day. Some examples of dairy sources include milk, cheese and yogurt. They key with dairy is to choose non-fat or low fat products because while dairy is a great source of vitamin D and calcium, it can also be a large contributor of saturated fat if you're not careful! A serving of dairy would be 1 cup of milk or yogurt and 1 oz. of cheese.
- Lean meat, fish, poultry: 6 oz/day. Protein is important for many of our bodily functions, however, it's important to choose lean and heart healthy meats. Some examples of these are eggs, chicken, turkey, salmon, herring, and tuna.
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 4-5 servings/day. Some examples of these foods include almonds, sunflower, seeds, kidney beans, peas, and lentils. The recommended portion size is 1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoons of seeds or nut butter, and 1/2 cup of beans and legumes.
What makes the DASH Diet so successful?
The foods recommended on the DASH diet tend to be high in nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and protein which are all key components to a healthy prediabetes diet. These foods are also low in saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol, and sodium- all components of food that contribute negatively to heart conditions such as high cholesterol and blood pressure. This is important to prediabetes since these conditions are often linked. Based on the components of the DASH diet it has been proven to be a successful approach to managing prediabetes.
Interested in a total overhaul to better manage your prediabetes? Download our comprehensive prediabetes diet recommendations.
Kaitlyn Willwerth is a Registered Dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition. Kaitlyn's work focuses on providing individualized health and lifestyle coaching and, most importantly, support. She is a Certified LEAP Therapist and has also completed the Monash University 'Low FODMAP Diet for IBS' online training course for health professionals.