Looking for a heart-healthy eating lifestyle? Consider the DASH diet. The DASH eating plan requires no special foods. It reinforces healthy eating habits based on low salt intake, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This approach to healthy eating was developed to lower blood pressure without medication. The original DASH diet study was sponsored by The National Institute of Health and has since been promoted by various organizations dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The health benefits of reduced sodium intake and eating a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure do not stop with hypertension prevention.
By following the calorie-reduced DASH diet guidelines, you may be able to:
Lower your blood pressure
Lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol
Lower the risk of certain cancers, including colorectal and breast cancer
Lower risk of heart disease
Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
How to DASH
DASH is a flexible and balanced eating plan of foods you’ve always been told to eat (because it’s good for you) and limiting or cutting out unhealthy foods.
The basic tenets of the DASH eating plan are:
Keep daily sodium intake less than 2,300 mg a day (The Lower sodium DASH diet recommends no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day)
Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
It may be a challenge to give up your favorite fatty, sugary, and salty fare but you can increase your chance of success by making a slow dash. Start with small changes such as:
Using herbs and spices to make food tastier without salt
Adding one fruit or vegetable serving to every meal
Snacking on dried fruit and nuts instead of potato chips
Switching out white flour for wheat flour
Go for a slow DASH but don’t give up.
Follow these general guidelines to create a variety of appetizing and wholesome dishes.