Important question: have you ever heard of the DASH Diet? OK, we know what you’re thinking: “Another day, another fad diet?”, right? While we totally get that you might be just a little unwilling to listen to a spiel on how you should be eating, we promise that this one is completely different.
It’s called the DASH Eating Plan and it was developed by the brilliant folks over at the National, Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute. Seems credible, right? Well, it is! The diet aims to support the bodies of folks who need some help in the blood pressure department. Of course, this ultra-healthy way of meal planning could also work well for folks who have perfect numbers but want to maintain or lose a few pounds.
Now, the whole concept behind this diet plan is that the key to bringing down your blood pressure has everything to do with eating the right nutrients, the right number of times per day, every day. These healthy nutrients include high levels of potassium, protein, and fiber. Of course, the focus is to also cut back on as much salty, fatty, and sugary foods as possible.
What we love about the DASH Eating Plan is that it’s anything but restrictive—there are tons of opportunities to get in plenty of servings of each and every food group daily. Yep, even carbs! Here’s an example of what daily food intake looks like on the diet…
Calorie Count: A woman between the ages of 31-50 who gets moderate exercise (walks at least 1.5 to 3 miles per day at a speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour) should shoot for around 2,000 calories per day.
Food Consumption: A woman in the 2,000 calorie/day diet range should be consuming 6-8 servings of grains, 4-5 servings of veggies, 4-5 servings of fruits, 2-3 servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy products, 6 or fewer servings of lean meats, 2-3 servings of fats and oils, and 2,300 mg of sodium per day. In addition to that, dieters should be eating 4 servings of nuts, seeds, or legumes and 5 or fewer servings of sweets or added sugars per week.
So, what should a DASH-friendly example of a meal look like? Take a peep at this example meal plan as recommended by the Mayo Clinic…
Breakfast: 1 whole wheat bagel topped with 2 tablespoons of all-natural, no-salt-added peanut butter with 1 medium orange and 1 cup of fat-free milk. If you are a coffee drinker, try your best to switch to decaf.
Lunch: 1 spinach-based salad with 4 cups of the leafy greens, 1 medium-sized sliced pear, ½ cup of mandarin orange slices (either canned or fresh), 1/3 cup of slivered almonds, and 2 tablespoons of homemade red wine vinaigrette. Pair with 12 low or reduced-sodium whole wheat crackers and 1 cup of fat-free milk.
Dinner: 3 ounces cooked (or 4 ounces raw) herb-crusted cod baked in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, with a serving of veggies, green beans, a small sourdough roll and brown rice on the side. For dessert, indulge in 1 cup of fresh berries, garnished with chopped mint.
Snack: Munch on 1 cup of fat-free, low-calorie yogurt and 4 vanilla wafers whenever you get hungry throughout the day.
We don’t know about you, but we are going to get started on DASH tomorrow! For even more info on how you can take control of your high blood pressure—and improve your overall health! —be sure to check out the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s DASH guide here.
We’d love to hear your take on the DASH Eating Plan. Have you tried this diet before? If so, did it help you lower your blood pressure? Do you know of any other heart-healthy diets that you would like to share?