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What Is The DASH Diet?

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy. These foods are high in key nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and protein.

The DASH diet can lower blood pressure because it has less salt and sugar than the typical American diet. The DASH diet cuts out desserts, sweetened beverages, fats, red meat, and processed meats.

Women who followed the DASH diet for several years reduced their risks of coronary artery disease and stroke.

To start the DASH diet, follow these recommendations (based on 2,000 calories a day):

  • Grains: 7-8 daily servings (serving sizes: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta, 1 ounce dry cereal)
  • Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings (1 cup raw leafy greens, 1/2 cup cooked vegetable)
  • Fruits: 4-5 daily servings (1 medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 6 ounces fruit juice)
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 daily servings (8 ounces milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1.5 ounces cheese)
  • Lean meat, poultry, and fish: 2 or fewer servings a day (3 ounces cooked meat, poultry, or fish)
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 4-5 servings per week (1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoons seeds, 1/2 cup cooked dry beans or peas)
  • Fats and oils: 2-3 daily servings (1 teaspoon vegetable oil or soft margarine, 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons light salad dressing)
  • Sweets: less than 5 servings per week. (1 tablespoon sugar, jelly, or jam)

Ask your doctor or a dietitian to help you start the DASH diet. They can tell you how many calories you need each day to maintain or get to a healthy weight. And then they can help you plan meals with foods you enjoy that meet the DASH guidelines.

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