The DASH diet was created to help dieters reduce high blood pressure, or hypertension. In fact, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Producing great blood pressure-lowering results, the diet is effective at much more than just reduced hypertension. With an emphasis on nutrient rich and varying foods, this practical diet may help to prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Though the diet is not designed specifically for weight loss, the diet’s focus on whole foods and healthy eating may take off pounds as well.
Ready to get started? Here are the basics of the diet, along with some tasty recipes to get you on your way to good health:
Standard DASH Diet basics:
Keep sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams a day
6 – 8 servings of grains a day
Options include whole-wheat bread, whole grain dry or cooked cereal, brown rice, cooked grains like bulgar, quinoa, or farro, or whole grain pasta. Try whole-wheat chocolate zucchini muffins, spiced banana quinoa waffles, confetti quinoa salad, or salmon over apple-ginger quinoa.
4 – 5 servings of vegetables a day
Include plenty of raw leafy greens, as well as cooked and raw veggies. Try to feature vegetables more as main course ingredients. Try baked eggs with greens and mushrooms, tangy buttermilk potato salad, or easy roasted asparagus.
4 – 5 servings of fruit a day
Include frozen, canned, or raw fruit. Try mango and avocado salad.
2 – 3 servings of dairy a day
Focus here should be on low-fat dairy options. Consider skim milk or yogurt. Beware of cheeses, even low-fat, since they can contain high amounts of sodium. Try a strawberry grapefruit smoothie.
6 or fewer servings of lean meat, poultry, and fish per day
Try to prepare these dishes at home, since prepackaged and canned meats are particularly high in sodium. Try chicken salad with dried cherries (for best results, sub low-fat mayo).
4 – 5 servings a week of nuts, seeds, or legumes
Opt for low-sodium versions, and check labels when buying anything that isn’t raw. Many canned legumes are available in low salt or salt free versions. Try pinto bean hummus.
2 – 3 servings of fats and oils per day
Fats can be a good thing, just be sure to opt for healthier fats like olive oil, avocado, and low-fat salad dressings.
5 or fewer servings of sweets per week
Jam, sugar, and juice count as sweets, but we all need to indulge a little. Consider healthier, low-fat options like sorbet, whole-fruit jam, and reduced calorie and fat cookies. Try mint-infused lemonade.