DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a comprehensive balanced eating plan for people who have high blood pressure. There are many benefits to the DASH diet, and not just for people with hypertension. The DASH diet follows a very flexible and balanced eating plan that is easy to follow for a healthier lifestyle.
Benefits of DASH
• DASH is an easy and flexible diet to follow. Meal plans and recipes are readily available.
• The DASH diet isn’t extremely restrictive, so followers do not feel as though they are being deprived.
• By focusing on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins, meal plans and recipes are designed to keep you full and energized.
• The DASH diet not only helps to lower blood pressure, but also helps lower cholesterol and is a great and healthy plan to follow for weight loss. The DASH eating plan is also recommended for diabetics.
Main Principles of DASH
• To follow a DASH meal plan, you will want to follow these main guidelines:
• Strive to keep your sodium intake to 1500mg per day.
• Pay close attention to packaged food labels; focus on nutritional values that are:
- Low in saturated and total fat
- Low cholesterol
- Low sodium
• Focus on plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
• Keep your proteins lean, such as poultry and fish. Nuts are also a recommended source of protein and healthy fats.
• Look for fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
Example Meal Plan
Here is an example of a day on the DASH diet:
A bowl of oatmeal or bran cereal with a sliced up apple, banana, or peach. One cup of fat free milk.
Baby carrots and a fat-free string cheese.
Sandwich wraps: Lean turkey or chicken deli slices with a slice of fat free cheese wrapped in lettuce. Pair with a handful of cherry tomatoes, and some grapes for a sweet finish.
Raw broccoli florets or sugar snap peas with either avocado dressing or a yogurt-based ranch dressing substitute.
Grilled or baked chicken flavored with garlic and Italian herbs. Serve with quinoa and steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.
Additional Snack Option
A small salad with fat-free Italian dressing and a handful of raw almonds.
Sugar free jell-o or a sweet bowl of cut up fresh fruits such as strawberries and melon
A Few Tips
The DASH eating plan is full of easy recommendations for a healthier diet. A few of these include:
- Aim to never add salt to your foods, but instead add flavor by seasoning your food with different herbs and salt-free spices.
- Avoid sweets as much as possible, especially sweetened beverages. Cutting out soda or other sweet beverages can make a huge difference.
- Use as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, but if you are unable try frozen instead of canned. Many canned vegetables contain a lot of sodium and other additives as preservatives. If you do use canned vegetables, drain and then rinse them to remove excess sodium.
The DASH diet is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and is highly recommended by the American Heart Association. It has been consistently rated as one of the best diets to follow.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the DASH diet.
Also published on Medium.