The DASH diet : What do you need to know?

An overview of the Dash diet?

The DASH diet is a diet which has been designed to help lower high blood pressure or hypertension, DASH actually stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

The DASH diet encourages the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods, the diet also includes meat, fish, poultry, nuts, and beans. The reduction of salt is one of the key features which leads to a reduction in high blood pressure.

The DASH diet puts a strict limit in place for sodium, sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats.

Although originally aimed at folks with high blood pressure it is a very good diet to follow as its less difficult to follow than many of the other common diets that exist as it does.

In research it has been shown that the DASH diet can reduce hypertension in only two weeks, the diet is also ranked number 1 by health experts and can also benefit people wanting to lose weight, again this is mainly due to the reduction of sugars, salt , trans fats and alcohol.

 

What foods can I eat on the Dash Diet and what are the portion sizes?

This is a key question in any diet, how much food and of what kinds can I actually eat.

Grains: 7 to 8 servings per day
Examples: Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta?
One Serving : 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup of pasta or rice
Tips : Aim to eat whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread instead of the refined variations which have a lot of goodness removed

Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings per da
Examples: Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, kale and basically any vegetables.
One Serving : 1 cup of salad greens or 1/2 cup of vegetables.
Tips : If possible buy fresh rather than tinned vegetables. Frozen is OK due to the process used, usually all of the goodness is still present.

Fruit: 4 to 5 servings per day
Examples: Bananas, apples, grapes, berries, oranges etc. There are loads of fruits, you will find something you like
One Serving : A medium-sized fruit or 1/2 cup of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit.
Tips : Various fruits such as bananas are great for minerals like potassium and magnesium

Dairy: 2 to 3 servings per day
Examples: Milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.
One Serving : 1 cup of 1% milk or low fat yogurt
Tips : look for low fat milk or yoghurt, these have other benefits like additional calcium and are a protein source

Lean Meat, Poultry, & Fish: 6 servings/ounces per day or less
Examples: Lean ground beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna
One Serving : Your palm is about 3 ounces, so 2 of these would be your quota per day
Tips : Rich in protein, minerals and some vitamins

Seeds & Legumes: 4 to 5 servings per week
Examples: Almonds, peanuts, cashews, kidney beans, peas, lentils and so on
One Serving : 1/3 cup of nuts
Tips : The portion size is per week remember – you can easily binge ion nuts if you like them

Fats & Oils: 2 to 3 servings per day
Examples: Olive oil, margarine, low-fat mayo
One Serving : 1 tablespoon margarine or mayonnaise
Tips : Despite the myths fats are good for you, trans fats are not – avoid them. these are usually found in processed foods

Despite what you think the DASH diet does not ban alcohol and sweets completely, this is often the failing of other diets, the cutting out completely of many things you like.

Alcohol
Men: maximum 2 drinks per day (or less)
Women: maximum 1 drink per day (or less)
Tips : With alcohol less is better, if you can give it up for your general health

Sweets/Sugar: 5 servings or less per week
Examples: Sugar, jelly, sorbet, candy, etc
One Serving : 1 tablespoon of sugar
Tips : If you can cut this out completely or reduce it, keep it as a treat for that special time – it gives you something to look forward to.

 

DASH diet tips to help you out

There are various ways you can make the DASH diet easier and better, here are some tips for you

Reduce your portion sizes but do it slowly – do not rush this is a key diet failure
Choose fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
Eat fruits canned in their own juice or in water – avoid sugary ones
Add fruit to plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt to improve the taste and increase your fruit intake
Snack on fruit, vegetable sticks such as carrot or rice cakes.
Drink water and squeeze the juice of a lemon or lime to give it a bit more taste
Do not add salt to your food, its easy to get in a habit of adding this by habit

 

What are some sample DASH meals?

Breakfast

3/4 cup bran flakes
1 medium banana
1 cup low-fat milk
1 slice whole wheat bread with 1 teaspoon of margarine
1 cup orange juice

Lunch

chicken breast sandwich

3 ounces of skinless chicken breast
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 slice reduced fat cheddar cheese
1 large romaine lettuce leaf
2 slices of tomato
1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise

1 cup cantaloupe chunks
1 cup apple juice

Dinner

Chicken and Spanish Rice (5 servings)

1 cup of chopped onions
1/4 cup green peppers
2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
5 cups of cooked rice (in unsalted water)
3 1/2 cups diced skinless cooked chicken breast

1. In a large skillet, sauté onions and green peppers in oil for 5 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add tomato sauce and spices. Heat through.
3. Add cooked rice and chicken, and heat through.

Snacks

1/3 cup unsalted almonds
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup fat-free and sugar free fruit yogurt

This should come in at the 2100 calorie mark or there about.

 

Summary of the DASH diet

My take from this DIET is the fact that a lot of foods are still on the table – fats are not the enemy, you can still have carbs and if you want you can still have the occasional wine or beer with a little treat.

Other diets fail as the food choice is sometimes restrictive (oh no not XXXX again) or banned – this is why people fail on so many diets. Give the DASH diet a go today.

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