Nutrition 101 – Glossary – D

DASH dietDefinition – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet. It is an eating pattern that emphasizes foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains and healthful dairy products. It limits foods high in saturated fat, like red and processed meats, and foods and beverages high in added sugars. Relevance – The DASH diet has been consistently shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension or prehypertension (borderline high blood pressure).

Default bias Definition – Preferring to fall back on what you know or what seems easy. This may be applied to eating and exercise habits. Relevance – To increase the likelihood of sticking with healthy behaviors, make them easier. For example, keep overly-tempting foods out of the house and stock healthy foods instead.

DeglazeDefinition – Heating and stirring a liquid in a pan after cooking to remove the flavorful, browned food residue from the pan. The liquid is simmered until it is reduced in amount by about half. Relevance – Deglazing can be used to make a sauce to flavor foods, such as vegetables, chicken or fish.

DementiaDefinition – An umbrella term for a gradual decline in mental function, such as memory and thinking skills, that are serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Relevance – Don’t ignore changes in memory or thinking skills. A doctor can help determine the cause and whether certain treatments could help.

DHADefinition – Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid found fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, as well as algae. Relevance – Omega-3 fats are important to heart health and help prevent diseases and conditions that derive from inflammation. DHA is in the same food sources as EPA, but DHA is found in algae while EPA is not.

DiastolicDefinition – Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number in a blood pressure reading that is a measure of the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats, when the heart muscle is resting. Relevance – Normal diastolic blood pressure is below 80 mmHg. Diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg indicates pre-hypertension.

Dietary fiberDefinition – Dietary fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate found in (or derived from) plants that can be listed on food labels as soluble, meaning it dissolves in water, or insoluble. Relevance – Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and benefits health by adding bulk to the diet, increasing feelings of fullness, aiding digestion, preventing constipation, and lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) Definition – A research tool used to assess the inflammatory potential of an individual’s overall diet. Relevance – Chronic inflammation is associated with a variety of chronic diseases (such as certain cancers and cardiovascular disease). Shifting to a healthier eating pattern may help reduce inflammation.

DiterpenesDefinition – Naturally-occurring phytochemicals (plant compounds) that have potential anti-inflammatory activities, among other possible benefits. Relevance – Coffee contains diterpenes, which may be associated with cardiovascular benefits.

Diverticular diseaseDefinition – Diverticular disease occurs when the pockets lining the large intestine experience inflammation or irritation. Relevance – Since it occurs mostly in populations with low fiber intake, a diet high in fiber is employed in the treatment of diverticular disease, which has symptoms like abdominal pain, fever, nausea, gas and bloating.

DPADefinition – Docosapentaenoic acid, or DPA, is an intermediary fatty acid between EPA and DHA. Relevance – Currently, there is no data for DPA consumed alone and its effects on health, since it is not commercialized for human consumption on its own; instead, it is found in fish oils, together with EPA and DHA.

DXADefinition – Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. This type of scan can provide a breakdown of bone, fat tissue and muscle mass. Relevance – It can be used to provide a measure of how much body fat you have, as well as to help in assessing your bone density.