What is the DASH diet? Is it useful for Indians? (Diet query of the day)

What is the DASH diet? Is it useful for Indians? (Diet query of the day)

By Neha Ranglani  on: 20 December 2014
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I have heard about DASH diet but I do not know what exactly it is. Is it a healthy diet to follow or a mere fad? Also, can Indians follow this diet?

Answered with inputs from nutritionist Neha Chandna.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a form of diet which is not only meant for existing patients of hypertension but also for people who have a family history or high chances of developing it.

This diet is also great for people who want to lose weight as it contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, etc. According to the DASH diet, salt intake of 1500-2300 mg is allowed depending on the person’s age, race, activity, health problems, genetics, etc. It also recommends cutting back on processed foods, cured and smoked meats. 

It increases potassium intake which helps lower blood pressure through foods like potato, sweet potato, dals, coconut water, banana, etc. 

DASH diet is a great option for Indians whose diets are high in fats and processed foods as it not only helps in controlling blood pressure but also weight and other lifestyle issues like diabetes. People with diabetes can follow this sample diet plan too. 

According US News and World Report magazine’s health and wellness editor, Angela Haupt, ‘DASH diet was designed to treat hypertension but it’s also effective for weight loss, adding that it’s a smart, sensible plan that’s safe and nutritious and helps control diabetes in addition to supporting heart health.’ Here is a weight loss diet by expert dietician.

Basic eating plan of a DASH diet

  • Sodium – 1500- 300 mg per day
  • More of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy
  • Fish, poultry, nuts, whole grains in moderation
  • Less amounts of sweets, red meat and fats
  • Alcohol limits – Men can have two or fewer drinks and women can have one drink per day

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In today’s glamour driven world, everyone’s dream is to look like their favorite celebrity. The rat race to reach your dream figure, shed weight and to look better than your peer, forces you to try to all the unwanted, undesirable sort of approaches, one and most common of them being the LOW CARB LOW FAT diet. At first it sounds interesting and a definite solution to lose those extra pounds. But in the long run, a low carb low fat diet limits your food choices drastically, leaving you forever hungry and frustrated. That’s not all, read further to know more about such a diet: The truth unfolds A low carb low fat diet is one which limits your food options and deprives you of all high carb foods like cereals, fruits, potato, honey, breads, biscuits etc and high fat foods like bakery products, whole milk, butter, cheese, oils, nuts etc. Up to 60% of your total daily calories should come from carbs and 22-25 % from fats, leaving the rest for proteins. Going too low on carbs and fats leaves you with very few exciting food options and all you have to depend on is protein rich foods like egg whites, chicken, fish, soya and low carb veggies. Since carbs are the main fuel for the cells of our body, depriving them of carbs affects their functioning in many ways. Cells also need fat for protection and metabolism. This diet surely helps you to lose weight, but it also impacts your body in many negative ways. Negative impact of a low carb low fat diet - Low on energy Carbs are broken down to glucose, which is absorbed in the blood stream and used up by the cells for energy. A low carb diet fails to provide energy and all it leaves you with is physical fatigue and tiredness. - Muscle loss The body starts using the muscles for energy when it does not get carbs from foods. This leads weakness and loss of body strength. - Mild depression Low carb diets reduce the secretion of serotonin- a neurotransmitter which makes you happy leaving you depressed, sometimes even cranky and angry. - Constipation Limiting foods like fruits, grains, vegetables and focusing on protein rich foods can leave your body deprived of the fiber it needs for a healthy digestive system. This can make passing stools an unpleasant experience. - Ketosis Long term deprivation of carbs can lead to ketosis – a condition in which the body uses stored fat as a source of energy, releasing a byproduct called ketones, which build up in the body affecting mental performance, organ functioning and leaving the body highly acidic. - Deficiencies Lack of fruits, veggies, oils and grains in your diet can make you deficient of nutrients like vitamin A (good for skin and eyes), Vitamin C (great for immunity), Vitamin E ( super anti oxidant), B-complex vitamins (to keep your energy levels high) and many micronutrients required by the body for working at its best. - Cold feet Fat is important to regulate body temperature. Going too low on carbs and fat can actually use up the protective fat layer below your skin, making you vulnerable to even slight weather changes, leaving you cold most of the times. - Poor brain health Fat is needed by the cells membranes of the brain and nerve fibers to help them pass messages quickly. Low fat diets can affect the brain functioning in several ways. - Lack of hormones Fats are required for the production of sex hormones in men and women. Low fat diet can affect your sexual life severely. - Acidity High protein food are acidic in nature, which can affect the ph levels in the stomach causing serve acidity, ulcerative colitis and other stomach issues. - Osteoporosis High protein diets can actually increase the calcium excretion from your body, making your bones weak and porous. - Kidney stones problems High protein diets can increase the calcium excretion in the urine increasing the chances of developing kidney stones. A word on good fats A low fat diet does not mean eliminating fat completely from your diet, but reducing its direct intake. The focus should be on choosing good fats wisely like omega 3 from walnuts, fish- salmon, tuna, flaxseeds and omega 6 from foods like avocado, olive oil, blend oils etc. in your diet as it helps to reduce bad cholesterol, protects the heart and improves brain functioning. The judgment Low carb low fat diets help you to lose weight for a short period of time, but once you go to back to your normal diet pattern, they add to your weight again (yo- yo effect). They are not sustainable for a long time and can have serious health effects as mentioned above if followed for longer periods. The best way to do it is to eat in moderation, select complex carbs like oats, whole grains, fruits, nuts, salads, low fat milk and milk products, fish, lean meats etc. and eat in portion control to help you burn calories, instead of adding to them.
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While it’s true more people want to lose weight than gain it, putting on weight is not as easy as it looks; in fact it’s more difficult to put it on. Nutritionist Neha Chandna agrees, ‘Weight loss is easier at times as it requires portion control, but weight gain is a slower process – you can lose up to 1 kg/week but adding 1 kg/week may be tedious.’ You have two options â€“ either gain weight by munching on unhealthy foods like fries, chips and other junk, a sure shot way to create future health problems like hypertension, heart disease and diabetes or you can gain weight in a healthy controlled manner. According to experts, gradual weight gain is always advisable and an increase in 500 kcal per day can result in a 0.5 kg per week increase in one’s body weight. Neha recommends the following basic principles to keep in mind if you wish to gain weight in a healthy way:  Increase your appetite by eating more to gain weight. But do it step-by-step and not by stuffing yourself too much at one go. Add one extra chapatti or more rice than you normally consume, or you even start with fruits by eating an extra one every day. Carbs are needed to gain weight but include healthier options like banana, potato, mango, whole grains, rice, etc. instead of sugar-rich foods, chocolates and other junk foods. In order to increase your muscle mass, it is essential to do weight training 4-5 times a week for an hour. You can vary the intensity depending on your capacity. Consume protein-rich foods after you workout to increase muscle mass and eat good fats like nuts and seeds in your diet. Eating a handful of pumpkin or flaxseeds is a good way to give your body the fat intake it needs. Though junk foods like vada pav or burgers are loaded with calories, they only increase body fat and not muscle mass which is not the right way to go about. Here is a healthy weight gain diet plan which includes the right foods one should consume to put on kilos in a healthy manner. But along with this, you also need to engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day. It is also essential to have at least 6-8 glasses of water to flush out toxins from the body. One should follow this diet till the time their ideal weight is achieved.  So follow these tips and meal plan to put on weight and look your best. Say goodbye to your skinny self and welcome a healthy and fit you! Diet plan provided by HealthifyMe, the world’s first Indian nutrition tracker.
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Dietitian Neha Chandna (Ranglani) has 8 years of experience in the field. Food and Health is the matter of interest for most of the people today and realizing the need to create awareness and spread the right information to the society, Neha decided to extensively educate herself in the field of nutrition. As a known fact that diet and exercise go hand in hand, She went a step ahead to certify herself as a REEBOK Aerobic instructor. One of the Most Famous & Online Nutritionists Dietitians in Mumbai (Khar west).Neha Chandna, a dietitian in Mumbai, is a university topper in Dietetics from S.V.T. She has worked as a nutritionist for reputed gyms and fitness trainers and as a consultant with doctors and physiotherapists. She deals with sportsmen, individuals who are obese or victims of lifestyle issues- to name a few- diabetes, thyroid, osteoporosis, PCOS etc. and active/exercising sector of society. She educates and conducts seminar/workshops for corporates like banks (HDFC & Standard Chartered Bank), BPOs and MNCs on the Right ways of eating and living. She also takes workshops on Nutrition in Pregnancy and Lactation. Neha Chandna also writes articles for magazines and newspapers like New Woman, Beauty and salon, Hello Mumbai, the afternoon etc. She has also done a couple of interviews for TV9 channel. She is an online consultant for a health social networking website www.ihealthu.com. Dietician Neha Chandna is one of the Best Dietician / nutritionist in Khar west , Mumbai.Neha Chandna is a Famous Nutritionist in Khar west & a famous nutritionist in Mumbai for weight loss diet chart and for other diet plan services. Popular dietcian in Mumbai. Consult her for best online Diet charts in Mumbai. 
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