Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

DASH Diet: What You Need to Know

        Health | Diets

DASH Diet Side Effects

Unlike some other diets that might eliminate essential foods or have adverse side effects, the DASH diet doesn't have any known negative side effects [source: Lyon]. As a bonus, the DASH diet is very sustainable and is recommended for the rest of your life. Though any new diet might be challenging at the start, depending on your previous eating habits, the DASH diet does have many benefits that make it easier to follow.

First, the DASH diet is known to affect people's blood pressure within the first two weeks of beginning the diet. During studies, the greatest results were found in people who had moderately high blood pressure and pre-hypertension. Less dramatic results were seen in people who had severe hypertension, but the diet still helped to lower their blood pressure [source: DASH Diet]. DASH diet followers can also see a decrease in their LDL cholesterol, which is commonly known as bad cholesterol. The combination of lowering a person's blood pressure and lowering his LDL cholesterol is a great way to reduce the risk of heart disease [source: NHLBI].

Aside from helping your heart, the DASH diet can also help you lose weight. By following the DASH diet plan and incorporating more physical activity every day, some followers have seen significant weight loss [source: NHLBI]. Other positive effects of the DASH diet include a reduced risk of cancer, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis [source: Mayo Clinic]. It's a simple combination of healthful foods and good exercise that contributes to the overall health of the person on the DASH diet.

Now that you know what steps to take, it may be time to make a dash for the DASH diet. But as with any dietary program, it's a good idea to check with your physician first. Visit the links on the next page to learn more.