5 Things About the DASH Diet Retail Clinicians Should Know

February 16th 2016
Meghan Ross, Senior Associate Editor
Meghan Ross, Senior Associate Editor

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants working in retail clinics may want to encourage their patients to stick to the DASH diet to lose weight, lower cholesterol, and manage or prevent diabetes.

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants working in retail clinics may want to encourage their patients to stick to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to lose weight, lower cholesterol, and manage or prevent diabetes.

MinuteClinic retail clinicians should already be familiar with the diet, given that CVS Health partnered with DASH for Health to create its weight-loss program. Patients who seek weight-loss counseling at MinuteClinics receive membership to DASH for Health’s online resources, which can help them stay on course between assessments by a retail clinician. A DASH diet food tracker app is also available.

MinuteClinic patients receive a 1-on-1 consultation with a nurse practitioner who assesses lifestyle, goals, and physical health. Then, patients walk away with a summary, receipt, and educational materials.

For retail clinicians who may not be familiar with the DASH diet, here are 5 things to know about it:

1.US News & World Reportranked the DASH diet as the best overall diet in 2016.

The panel complimented the diet’s nutritional completeness, safety, role in heart health, and ability to prevent or control diabetes.

In addition to receiving the No. 1 overall spot for diets, the DASH diet also ranked first in best diets for healthy eating, and it tied for best diabetes diet. It also ranked third among heart-healthy diets and tied for ninth place on easiest diets to follow.

2.The DASH diet has been referred to as an Americanized version of the Mediterranean diet.

The diet encourages fruits and vegetables, low-fat and nonfat dairy, nuts, beans, lean proteins, and seeds.

A sample breakfast may include yogurt, a whole wheat English muffin with jam, oatmeal, and pineapple juice. A lunch might consist of a chicken Waldorf salad, roll, baby carrots, nonfat milk, and cantaloupe. A DASH diet dinner could be roasted chicken, baked potato, spinach salad, and asparagus.

3.The DASH diet is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber.

Diets that involve key nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium have been associated with lower blood pressure.

4.Patients adhering to the DASH diet should lower their sodium intake and avoid certain fats.

Patients should choose foods that are lower in saturated and trans fats. Using a 2000-calorie diet, patients should try to limit daily servings of sodium to 2300 mg, but a diet consisting of only 1500 mg of sodium works better to further lower blood pressure, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute noted on its website.

The DASH-Sodium trial involving 412 participants compared a typical American diet with the DASH diet. The patients were split among 3300-mg, 2300-mg, and 1500-mg sodium diets. The researchers found that those who lowered their sodium intake and used the DASH diet saw greater reductions in blood pressure than those who followed the DASH diet alone.

5.In addition to DASH dietary recommendations, patients are encouraged to engage in moderate physical activity for at least 2.5 hours per week.

The Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health provides a few examples of moderate exercise: very brisk walking, heavy cleaning such as washing windows or vacuuming, bicycling with light effort, badminton, or tennis.

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