The DASH diet is a popular and highly rated diet that helps control blood pressure in people with hypertension. This diet promotes heart health and can also aid in weight loss.
What do you eat in a DASH diet?
The DASH diet aims at cutting back fats and salt in the food you eat, thus reducing cholesterol and sodium. Sodium can cause water retention in the body which increases blood pressure. This diet eliminates processed and packaged foods that are high in salt content.
It had been found that vegetarians and vegans were less prone to high blood pressure. This is because they consume less sodium and fats. A new diet called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) was developed based on this finding.
The DASH diet places more emphasis on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, and lean meats.
This diet focuses on reducing salts and fats in your meals. There are two types of DASH diet:
- The Standard DASH diet controls fats in meals and also limits salt levels to just around 2,300 mg or less per day.
- The Lower Sodium DASH diet includes all the Standard DASH diet recommendations. In addition, it further reduces salt intake to just around 1,500 mg per day.
Calories and servings
The calories you need to consume each day depends on your gender, age, and activity level. Men need more calories than women, older people need fewer calories, those leading a sedentary lifestyle need much less than people who have an active lifestyle. You can consult a doctor or a dietician to determine your calorie needs.
The food groups to be included and the servings
Grains, fruits, veggies, nuts, low-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry, and fish are included in this diet. Following are the per day servings of each food group :
- Grains: Six to eight servings
- Vegetables: Four to five servings
- Fruits: Four to five servings
- Low-fat dairy: Two to three servings
- Nuts, beans, seeds: Four to five servings (per week)
- Meat, poultry, fish: Up to four servings
- Fats, oil: Two to three servings
What are the single serving sizes?
- Bread – Single slice
- Cooked rice – Half cup
- Pasta – Half cup
- Dry cereal – One ounce
- Raw vegetables – One cup
- Raw leafy vegetables – One cup
- Cooked vegetables – Half Cup
- One medium-size fruit
- Dry fruits – Half cup
- Tinned or frozen fruits – Half cup
- Fruit juice – Half cup
- Milk – One cup
- Yogurt – One cup
- Cheese – One and a half ounce
- Nuts – Half cup
- Seeds or peanut butter – Two tablespoons
- Cooked legumes – Half cup
- Cooked lean meat/poultry/fish – One ounce
- Egg – one
Fats and oils
- Soft margarine or vegetable oil – One teaspoon
- Mayonnaise – One tablespoon
- Salad dressing – Two tablespoon
- Very low levels of salts and sugars
By limiting fats and sweets and including more fibrous foods, the DASH diet helps cut down calories and still makes you feel satiated. By lowering the calorie count it also helps you lose weight, especially if you combine the diet with a good workout routine.