Your questions answered on popular diet shown to reduce risk of depression

PHOTO: Various fruits and vegetables are pictured in an undated stock photo.PlaySTOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
WATCH Your DASH diet questions answered

Interest in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan has spiked since a study found the diet can reduce the risk of depression later in life.

The new research, released last month, found the odds of becoming depressed over time was 11 percent lower among adults who followed the DASH eating plan.

PHOTO: Various grains, lentils and whole grain breads and pasta products are displayed in an undated stock photo.STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
Various grains, lentils and whole grain breads and pasta products are displayed in an undated stock photo.

The DASH diet was originally started by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) as a way to reduce blood pressure. It has been shown in multiple studies to lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol (LDL) and body weight.

Good Morning America” asked viewers what they wanted to know about DASH.

Here are the answers.

What foods are recommended on the DASH Diet?

The DASH eating plan is high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins. It also includes whole grains and nuts, according to the NHLBI.

PHOTO: Various fruits and vegetables are pictured in an undated stock photo.STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
Various fruits and vegetables are pictured in an undated stock photo.

The foods encouraged on the eating plan are high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, protein and fiber.

What foods does the DASH Diet discourage?

The diet is low in processed foods, saturated fats, red meat, salt and sugar.

Why is the DASH Diet effective?

"It’s safe, simple and sustainable and there are no gimmicks involved," explained Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent. "Anyone can follow this."

PHOTO: Fish, eggs and poultry are pictured in an undated stock photo.STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
Fish, eggs and poultry are pictured in an undated stock photo.

How do the foods recommended by DASH Diet improve health?

The DASH diet is full of foods rich in potassium.

Sodium makes you retain water, which elevates blood pressure. Similarly, potassium may do the opposite.

"We want to increase foods that are rich in potassium and DASH diet is loaded with those kind of foods," Ashton said.

What are potassium-rich foods?

Ashton recommends eating white beans, black beans, orange juice, watermelon juice, bananas, edamame, beets, sweet potatoes, avocados and canned salmon (without added sodium) to increase potassium intake.

PHOTO: White and black beans are pictured in an undated stock photo.STOCK/Getty Images
White and black beans are pictured in an undated stock photo.

How does the DASH diet compare to other diets?

The DASH diet has been ranked as the No. 1 overall diet by U.S. News and World Report for eight consecutive rankings. It tied this year in the No. 1 spot with the Mediterranean diet in U.S. News and World Report’s ranking.

"The thing about the DASH diet is you’re eating specifically the foods you’ve always been told to eat, pretty much fruit, vegetables, whole grain, lean protein and low-fat dairy," Angela Haupt, assistant managing editor of health at U.S. News and World Report, told ABC News in January. "And it eliminates foods high in fat and sugar-sweetened drinks and sweets."

Where can I find the specifics of the DASH diet?

The NHLBI publishes free guides on the plan so you can see if it is right for you.

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