The DASH diet focuses on eating a variety of foods, portion size, and consuming adequate amounts of nutrients. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is designed to treat, or even prevent hypertension, or high blood pressure, through healthy eating. Foods that are included in the DASH diet are rich in nutrients such as calcium magnesium, and potassium. These nutrients help lower your blood pressure and promote heart health.
DASH diet foods are also low in sodium, as sodium or salt intake can raise your blood pressure. You may be able to lower your blood pressure in only two weeks by following the DASH diet. Over time, if you continue to follow the DASH diet, your blood pressure could drop even more, enough to make a significant positive impact on your health.
Not only is the DASH diet beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure, it may also prevent diabetes, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. Although the DASH diet is not considered a weight-loss program, shedding unwanted pounds is an added benefit because it leads you towards healthy meal and snack choices.
Rich In Fruits And Vegetables
The DASH diet is comprised of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy food, poultry, fish and nuts. Vegetables highlighted on the DASH diet include carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, greens, broccoli, and other vegetables rich in fiber, vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. You don’t have to consider vegetables as side dishes when following the DASH diet.
Vegetables served over whole-wheat pasta or brown rice can make a hearty main dish. Both fresh and frozen vegetables can be used in the DASH diet, however, when purchasing frozen or canned vegetables, only choose those without added salt, or low sodium.
Leave Peels On Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits are another important component of the DASH diet, and 4 to 5 servings per day are recommended. Leaving on the peels when possible gives you an added nutrient boost. Pear and apple peels, as well as pitted fruit add texture to your recipes as well as containing fiber and healthy nutrients. If you use canned fruit or drink prepared juice, make sure they do not contain any added sugar.
Citrus Juice Warning
Although citrus juice and fruits such as grapefruit contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they can interact with medications, so talk to your doctor about any possible adverse reactions.
You should aim for 2 to 3 servings of dairy per day. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are rich in vitamin D, calcium, and protein. Choose fat-free or low fat dairy products to make sure you aren’t consuming major sources of saturated fat.
Choose Low Fat
Fat-free or low-fat frozen yogurt can be mixed with fresh fruit for a flavorful, healthy treat. If you are unable to tolerate dairy products, consider choosing lactose-free food items or take a non-prescription product containing lactase, which is an enzyme that helps relieve or prevent lactose intolerance symptoms. Although you should get between 2 and 3 servings of dairy every day, eating too much cheese, even the fat-free type, can significantly raise your sodium intake.
Go For Lean Protein Sources
Lean meats, fish and poultry are integral components of the Dash diet, and eating 6 or less servings per day is recommended. Meat is a rich source of B vitamins, protein, zinc, and iron, but it also contains cholesterol and fat, even the leaner types. It is for this reason that you should not make them the highlights of your meals. Instead try cutting back your meat intake by 1/3 or even 1/2, and focus on eating vegetables instead.
Trim Away Excess Fat
Always trim away excess fat and skin from meat and poultry, and broil, grill, roast or bake instead of frying. Eating heart-healthy fish such as tuna, salmon, and herring can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, as they are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which also help lower your cholesterol levels.
Eat More Nuts, Seed And Legumes
Nuts, legumes, and seeds are good sources of potassium, magnesium, and protein, so try eating between 4 and 5 servings per week. They are also rich in plant-based phytochemicals, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Legumes, seeds, and nuts also are high in fiber, but they are also relatively high in calories.
Check Serving Sizes
A serving size of nuts is 1/3 cup, a single serving of peas or beans is 1/2 cup cooked, and a serving size of seeds is 2 tablespoons. Nuts are often looked upon as unhealthy because of their high fat content. Even though they are high in fat, nuts contain monounsaturated fats, which are considered healthy, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts have high caloric values, so enjoy them in moderation. Adding them to cereals, salads, and stir fried dishes is a great to complement these dishes.
As with any new diet or treatment, individuals should check with their health care providers before beginning a new regimen.