What Is The DASH Diet Plan And What Foods Does It Include?

DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a well-researched eating plan to reduce blood pressure. The diet is based on research studies sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). It is designed to reduce your sodium intake, thus, helping you treat blood pressure. The good news is that the DASH diet is capable of reducing many diseases including heart disease and diabetes. In some cases, even weight loss has been reported. Here, you can get yourself familiar with the DASH diet and what it entails.

What Is DASH Diet

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By following a DASH diet plan, you develop a healthy eating style for life. The diet promotes consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils should be part of your diet. At the same time, limit 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. The intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets should also be restricted. There are two versions of the DASH diet:

Standard DASH diet: Consume up to 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day.
Lower sodium DASH diet: Reduce sodium intake below 1,500 mg daily. It is seen that 1,500 milligrams (mg) sodium lower blood pressure even further than 2,300 mg sodium daily.

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Daily DASH Eating Plan

The takeaway is this: Focus on foods that are low in saturated and trans fat, high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and protein. Foods that are lower in sodium should be given importance. According to the above guidelines, here are the daily servings to meet the DASH eating plan.

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Grains: 6-8 daily servings
Meats, poultry, and fish: 6 or less daily servings
Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings
Fruit: 4-5 daily servings
Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 daily servings
Fats and oils: 2-3 daily servings
Sodium: 2,300 mg daily servings

Include These Foods In Your DASH Diet

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If you have decided to adopt the DASH diet, then you should have a proper plan. Be ready with your weekly menu in advance. When you go grocery shopping, make sure that you choose low-fat, low-sodium foods. Go through the food label and ensure that they are lower in salt. Always pick fresh fruits and vegetables, instead of canned one. Do not choose food with added salt like pickles. Above all, use less salt while cooking. Use herbs, spices, peppers, ginger, lemon, or garlic powder to enhance flavor in the absence of salt. As you embrace the DASH diet, stock up on these items.

Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and other vegetables brimming with nutrients.
Fruits: Go for fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, dates, and berries.
Grains: Pick whole-grain varieties of bread, pasta, cereal, bagels, pitas, rice, crackers, and tortillas. Whole grains are always recommended as they are packed with more fiber than refined grains.
Dairy products: Milk, buttermilk, cheeses, and yogurt. Low-fat is the key when you buy them.
Nuts, seeds, and legumes: Almonds, walnuts, kidney beans, lentils, peas and sunflower seeds are good choices. Again, ensure they are low-salt varieties. Being a good source of magnesium, potassium, protein, and other phytonutrients, they give more power to your diet.
Lean meats, poultry, and fish: Settle on lean varieties, such as fish, skinless chicken and turkey, pork tenderloin, and beef. Limit smoked or processed meats. It’s always better to cut down meat so that you can add more vegetables.

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If you aim to reduce your weight, go for an eating plan that is lower in calories. As you adopt the DASH diet, make changes gradually. Always remember, if you are on medication for blood pressure, do not stop taking your medicine while on the DASH diet. Well then, happy DASH dieting!

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