The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans supports the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Dash was developed to help people lower their blood pressure, and was later found to also be very effective lowering cholesterol and inflammation.
The DASH diet provides essential nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium- all of which are associated with lowering blood pressure. The diet encourages eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and choosing low-fat or nonfat dairy. In addition, the diet promotes eating grains (especially whole grains), lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts and beans. Below you will find a sample DASH diet and some suggestions on how to get started. You can also go to the National Institute of Health’s website for even more information.
A sample DASH eating plan based on 2000 calories includes:
- Seven to eight servings of grains or grain products daily.
- Four to five servings of vegetables daily.
- Four to five servings of fruit daily.
- Two to three servings of low-fat dairy foods daily.
- No more than two servings of meat, poultry and fish daily.
- Two to three servings of fats and oils daily.
- Four to five servings of nuts, seeds and dry beans a week.
- Five servings of sweets a week.
- Add a serving of fruit to meals. A serving amounts to a handful of strawberries, ½ cup canned fruit, or a medium apple. Add no salt added canned veggies (e.g., a half cup of green beans) to lunch and dinner.
- Read labels on margarine and salad dressings. Choose products low in saturated and trans fats.
- Buy cereals and breads made with whole grains.
- Try casseroles, pasta and stir-fry dishes, which contain less meat and more veggies, grains and pasta.
- Cut down the size of meat servings. Have a 3-ounce, rather than a 6-ounce, hamburger. Instead of 5 ounces of chicken, have a stir-fry with 2 ounces of chicken and 1-1/2 cups of veggies.
- Sprinkle fruit or nuts into low-fat yogurt.
- Eat fruits canned in their own juices.
- Snack on fruit, vegetable sticks, and unsalted pretzels and popcorn.