All About Dash
If you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, you need to know about the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet.
DASH is an eating plan that is rich in fruits and vegetables, non-fat or low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry and unsaturated fats. These foods are full of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. The DASH plan is also low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and added sugars.
The DASH Diet was designed to lower blood pressure, but it is a perfect diet for anyone.
The DASH eating plan is from the "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" clinical study. The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and units of the National Institutes of Health. DASH's final results appeared in the April 17, 1997 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Studies showed definitively that individuals following the DASH eating plan had a reduction in high blood pressure levels.
Furthermore, combining the heavily plant-based DASH eating plant with a lower sodium diet lowered blood pressure even more. A prescribed sodium limit of 2,300 milligrams per day (from an average US intake of 4,200 milligrams) lowered blood pressure more than DASH Diet alone, and lowering sodium to 1,500 milligrams per day helped even more.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends DASH as a model for healthy eating for everyone. DASH has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. DASH contains very little meat, but it has just the right amount of protein to keep you healthy.
The DASH Diet's emphasis on fruits and vegetables can be a challenge. DASH calls for 8 to 10 servings of fruits and/or vegetable in one day (one serving is 1/2 cup of cooked or 1 cup of raw fruit and vegetables, or one small piece of fruit). Only about 11 percent of Americans report eating the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by DASH.
If you're used to a low-fiber diet, the addition of so many high fiber foods might cause gastrointestinal distress. The secret is to slowly increase your fiber intake over the course of several weeks to give your body a chance to adjust. Drink more fluid in the form of low calorie beverages, including water, to keep the fiber moving through your body.
Make DASH low in sodium by choosing low-sodium versions of cereals, crackers, and salad dressings, for example, to decrease sodium intake.
Here's DASH Diet sample menu:
1/2 cup regular oatmeal
1 cup fruit yogurt, fat-free
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup tuna, drained, rinsed
1 TBSP low-fat mayonnaise
1 large leaf romaine lettuce
2 slices tomato
2 slices whole-wheat bread
1 medium apple
1 cup fat-free milk
1/6 recipe zucchini lasagna with unsalted cottage cheese*
salad with 1/2 cup spinach leaves, 1/2 cup tomato wedges, 2 TBSP plain croutons
homemade vinaigrette dressing*
1 small whole-wheat roll
1 cup grape juice
1 tsp soft margarine
1/3 cup unsalted almonds
1 1/2 oz cheddar cheese, natural, reduced-fat
3 large rye wafer crackers, unsalted
* recipes: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/prevent/h_eating/h_recip.htm