About 1 of every 3 American adults suffers from hypertension, which makes a regimen like the DASH diet more beneficial than ever. DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a low blood pressure diet that emphasizes eating less sodium and more nutrient-rich foods filled with potassium, calcium, and magnesium, to name a few.
DASH Diet Menu
The DASH diet is a lifestyle change and long-term approach to living a healthier life.
The diet has two versions:
- Standard DASH diet: In the standard diet, you can consume up to 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
- Low sodium DASH diet: In the low-sodium diet, you can consume up to 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
This is in comparison to the 3,400 mg of sodium per day that the average Amerian diet contains. Regardless of which version you adhere to, the DASH diet menu plan dictates the following:
- Consume 6 to 8 servings of whole grains a day. Whole grains include whole-wheat bread, wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole grain cereal. An example of 1 serving would be 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup of pasta, rice, or cereal.
- Consume 4 to 5 servings of vegetables a day. Carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, greens and other vegetables are all necessary for your day to get proper fiber, potassium, magnesium, and other nutrients into your diet. An example of 1 serving would be 1 cup leafy greens or 1/2 cup raw/cooked, cut-up vegetables.
- Consume 4 to 5 servings of fruits a day. Like vegetables, fruit contains necessary fiber and nutrients you need in your diet. For fruits that have peels like apples and pears, for instance, it’s best to eat them with the peels intact as that is where most of the nutrients lie. An example of 1 serving of fruit would be 1 medium fruit or 4 ounces of juice (with no added sugar).
- Consume 2 to 3 servings of dairy a day. Dairy products are encouraged for their beneficial calcium, protein, and other vital nutrients, however, the DASH diet suggests eating low-fat versions of milk, yogurt, and cheese. An example of 1 dairy serving would be 1 cup of low-fat yogurt or milk, or 1.5 ounces of part-skim cheese.
- Consume fewer than 6 servings of lean meat, poultry, and fish a day. While lean meat contains beneficial nutrients like zinc and protein, it’s best to keep meats minimal (6 ounces maximum per day) and instead focus more on vegetables, or fish like salmon, which is rich with omega-3’s. An example of 1 serving would be 2 to 4 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast.
- Consume 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes a week. This can include almonds, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lentils, and peas, just to name a handful. They’re full of fiber and phytochemicals, which are plant compounds that protect against some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease. These foods are generally high in calories, so they’re only supposed to be consumed 4 to 5 times a week, as opposed to 4 to 5 times per day. An example of 1 serving would be 1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoons seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked lentils/peas.
- Consume 2 to 3 servings of fats and oils a day. Fats are necessary for absorbing nutrients, but they should be limited in your diet due to the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. An example of 1 serving would be 1 teaspoon of margarine or 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.
- Consume fewer than 5 servings of sweets a week. Since sweets don’t tend to provide any nutritional value, they should be consumed on a limited basis. An example of 1 serving of sweets would be 1/2 cup of sorbet, 1 tablespoons of jam, or 1/2 cup of lemonade.
DASH Diet for Weight Loss
The DASH diet isn’t a program aimed at losing weight, although it’s possible to lose weight since the diet guides you towards making healthier food choices. In general, the DASH diet creates an outline of servings based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. This may not fit into what your individual, caloric intake should be to lose weight, so weight loss isn’t necessarily a guaranteed side effect.
DASH Diet for Hypertension
Because the DASH diet focuses on reduced sodium, it is a very beneficial diet for people suffering from hypertension. More importantly, the diet focuses on the increased consumption of foods that are rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which have been shown in studies to reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
DASH Diet Recipes
The following recipes are just some of the many examples of meals that adhere to the DASH diet:
Open-Faced Tuna Sandwich
Roasted Salmon with Maple Glaze
DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure. (2016, April 08). Retrieved February 26, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456?pg=2
High Blood Pressure Facts. (2016, November 30). Retrieved February 26, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm
Houston, M. C., & Harper, K. J. (2008, July). Potassium, magnesium, and calcium: their role in both the cause and treatment of hypertension. Retrieved February 26, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18607145