No, this diet is not about running. The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is relatively simple:
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods
- Limit foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol
- Eat more whole grain foods, fish, poultry, and nuts
- Limit sodium, sweets, sugary drinks and red meat.
People who follow the DASH diet typically see their blood pressure lowered within two weeks. In January of this year, the DASH diet was ranked best diet for the 7th year in a row. Not only is it great for heart health, but it also promotes healthy eating, is great for diabetes management, and is even a fabulous plan for weight loss!
The DASH diet is especially recommended for people with hypertension and prehypertension. In addition to being a low sodium plan, it provides additional benefits to reduce blood pressure. Because it is rich in fruits and vegetables, low in fat, rich with fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, the DASH diet is designed for the whole family. It does not require special foods, and the recipes are easy to follow. The DASH diet simply calls for a certain number of daily servings from various food groups. The number of servings depends on the number of calories you are allowed each day. That number depends on your age, gender, and how active you are. The DASH diet is also gradual. To start, you may be consuming 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Because fruits and vegetables are naturally lower in sodium, gradually lowering your intake to around 1,500 mg per day should be rather simple. The less sodium you eat, the more you are able to lower your blood pressure.
An easy way to start the DASH diet is by getting rid of prepared foods. Prepared foods are packed with sodium and other preservatives. Also, do not bring the salt shaker to the table when eating meals. Be creative. Add herbs, spices, lemons, limes, vinegar, or wine to recipes instead of salt. For gradual change, start by adding a serving of vegetables to lunch one day, and then to dinner the next. Increase your use of fat-free and low-fat milk products to three servings per day. Limit lean meats to 6 oz per day, which should be 3 oz per meal. Including more vegetarian style meals is a great way to limit meat consumption! There are also great ways to limit pasta. For example, “zoodles” and spaghetti squash are great alternatives while also increasing your vegetable consumption!