Dash diet weight loss

The DASH diet is proven to work. Why hasn’t it caught on?

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (a.k.a. the DASH diet) is celebrating 20 years of helping people with hypertension and pre-hypertension lower blood pressure just as well as some medications. It has the potential to lower health-care costs and has been a component of the national dietary guidelines for over 10 years. So why are so few people using it?

What is the DASH diet?

The DASH diet emphasizes foods rich in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium and low in saturated fat, sugar and salt. On your plate, that looks like plenty of fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, fish, poultry, whole grains and low-fat dairy, with fewer fatty meats and sweets. Although DASH is not a reduced-sodium diet, lowering sodium intake by eating whole foods over processed foods enhances the diet’s effect.

The original trial of the DASH diet showed reductions in both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure across subgroups of gender, race and ethnicity and in hypertensive and pre-hypertensive patients. Further studies have found that adherence to the DASH diet lowered total and LDL cholesterol, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke even throughout several years of follow-up, and reduced bone turnover, improving bone health.

Who should use the DASH diet?

The DASH diet is recommended by the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute because of its blood-pressure-lowering effects for hypertensive adults, and it’s been shown to be effective for pre-hypertensive patients. So if your blood pressure is elevated or you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, the DASH diet is for you.

But what if you don’t have high blood pressure? Are there benefits from following the DASH diet?

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say the model eating plan for all Americans is the DASH diet, because it outlines a generally healthy diet from which anyone can benefit. Following the DASH diet’s principles will mean you’re eating a nutrient-rich yet not calorie-dense diet that has been shown to be helpful for promoting weight loss and maintenance.

A growing body of evidence suggests DASH is also helpful for managing diabetes, preventing cancer and improving kidney health.

Why aren’t more people following the DASH diet?

If the DASH diet is so beneficial and well studied, why isn’t everyone following it? Analyses of health and nutrition in the United States from 1988 to 2012 showed that less than 1 percent of the population adhered to the DASH diet and that only 20 percent met half of the recommended nutrient levels in DASH. Compare these numbers with the half of Americans who have high blood pressure, and we can safely say there’s plenty of work to be done to increase adherence to the DASH diet.

Dori Steinberg, a research scholar at Duke University, says one of the reasons the DASH diet hasn’t taken off is that its recommended foods aren’t as accessible as fast food and processed foods. “It’s much easier to grab a fast-food burger and fries than it is to make a spinach salad with strawberries,” she says.

(The Washington Post)

Although the DASH diet can certainly be followed on a tight budget, changing the food environment to make healthy options such as fruits and vegetables more affordable and widely available at convenience stores, grab-and-go restaurants, community facilities and more is key to increasing adherence.

Most hypertensive patients who would benefit from counseling about the DASH diet see ­primary-care physicians exclusively — and therefore receive little nutrition counseling beyond suggestions about lowering sodium in the diet. The poor adherence to the DASH diet presents a call to action for primary-care physicians to become more familiar with the diet and to refer patients to registered dietitians, who can provide the dietary counseling people need to put DASH into action.

Getting more Americans on the DASH diet

The key to helping people eat better is giving them the tools they need to put nutrition information into action. It’s not enough to provide a list of guidelines; we need to give people recipes and support them in learning basic cooking skills to prepare healthier meals.

Dietitians can share information with clients on how to shop for DASH-appropriate foods on a budget, such as canned beans and fish, and frozen vegetables and fruit. Any medical or health professional can give their patients and clients information on the DASH diet from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website.

Steinberg says ongoing dietary counseling has been shown to help people stick to the DASH diet, but her research group at Duke wants to leverage technology to bring knowledge of and support for the diet to the masses.

“There aren’t any apps that focus on DASH, so we’re working on developing a DASH diet app that can leverage other apps that people are already using to track their diet, activity levels and more,” Steinberg says.

Getting more exposure for the DASH diet is another avenue to increase awareness. U.S. News & World Report experts rated DASH as the top diet overall for several years, adding to the diet’s credibility and helping to bring it to a wider audience.

So why does the DASH diet’s following pale in comparison to other popular diets? It’s time DASH got a celebrity endorsement. Or a splashy website with some dramatic before-and-after photos!

Letting go of perfection

Could positive health outcomes occur if a person didn’t follow all of the DASH diet principles but still incorporated some of them?

According to Steinberg, every two-point increase in a person’s DASH adherence score — a scale that rates a person’s compliance from zero to nine, with nine being fully compliant with the diet — leads to a reduction in blood pressure. “And improvements in blood pressure are seen in just two weeks,” she said.

So this is a diet where you can do your best and see results quickly rather than worry about following it perfectly. There is such a thing as “good enough” when it comes to healthy eating, and I counsel clients on this all the time. Is fear about having to stick to a diet holding you back from eating better today? What if your diet doesn’t have to be 100 percent healthy? Eating well is about getting your ratio of healthy eating closer to 80 percent and being happy with each improvement along the way.

Perhaps for its anniversary, the DASH diet should consider a rebranding and be renamed “the DASH lifestyle.” Diets are temporary. The DASH lifestyle deserves to be here for another 20 years — and beyond.

How much diet and exercise can lower your blood pressure

Click here for a printer-friendly version of the tips in this post.

Nearly half of U.S. adults now have hypertension, according to recent guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

That means that many people who had “prehypertension” according to the old guidelines now have “stage 1 hypertension.” Most of them don’t need to start taking drugs to lower their pressure (that depends on other risk factors). Instead, the guidelines recommend a healthy lifestyle.

Why? Because it works. Here’s how much your systolic pressure (the higher of your two blood pressure numbers) could fall with diet and exercise, according to the new guidelines:

1. Eat a DASH diet: 11 points

A DASH-style diet does it all: protects your heart, piles on the fruits and veggies, and cuts unhealthy carbs. It’s not only low in saturated fat, sugar, and salt, it’s also rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber.

Plus, DASH works for omnivores or vegetarians.

Click here for our chart of DASH serving sizes and other tips.

2. Exercise: 5 points

All forms of exercise will lower blood pressure, but the best evidence is for aerobic activity. Aim for 90 to 150 minutes a week of aerobics (brisk walking, biking, running, etc.) and/or resistance training (biceps curls, leg presses, etc.).

If you’re starting with walking, here’s how to ramp up the intensity gradually.

3. Lose weight: 5 points

Losing excess weight helps lower blood pressure. Expect about a 1 point drop in systolic pressure for every 2 pounds you lose.

4. Cut salt: 5 points

To lower blood pressure, cut your sodium by 1,000 milligrams a day, ideally to 1,500 mg a day. Start with these seven foods.

Bread. About 100 to 200 mg of sodium per slice is typical. Pepperidge Farm and some other brands make it easy to stay at the low end.

Cheese. Most types have 150 to 250 mg of sodium per ounce. Try Swiss (just 40 to 60 mg) or fresh mozzarella (80 to 100 mg) or just 1 “slim cut” or “thin” slice of your favorite variety.

Poultry. The salt solution that’s often added to raw chicken or turkey can add 120 mg of sodium to the poultry’s 80 mg of (naturally occurring) sodium. So avoid poultry with labels like “Contains up to 15% of a solution.”

Deli meats. Just 2 oz. can pile 500 to 700 mg of sodium on your sandwich. Get Boar’s Head’s (or another brand’s) “low-sodium” meats that are sliced at the deli counter (about 50 to 80 mg in 2 oz.).

Soup. Most soups deliver 600 to 900 mg of sodium per cup. Try Imagine, Pacific, Dr. McDougall’s, Amy’s Organic, or Trader Joe’s “Light in Sodium” or “Reduced Sodium” soups instead (200 to 400 mg).

Pizza. You can easily get 1,000 mg of sodium in 2 slices. Go light on the cheese, and replace meat with veggies (not olives).

Restaurant entrées. Many pack 1,000 to 2,000 mg of sodium. Save half for later. And add a side salad or other veggies to boost potassium.

5. Get more potassium: 4 to 5 points

The goal: Get 3,500 to 5,000 milligrams of potassium a day. You’ll get the most bang for your calorie buck with fruits and vegetables. Some examples:

CaloriesPotassium (mg)
Baked potato with skin (1 small) 130 750
Beet greens (½ cup cooked) 20 650
Yellowfin tuna (4 oz. cooked) 150 600
Sweet potato with skin (1 small) 130 540
Wild Coho salmon (4 oz. cooked) 160 490
Spinach (½ cup cooked) 20 420
Banana (1) 110 420
Low-fat plain yogurt (6 oz.) 110 400
Fat-free milk (1 cup) 80 380
Cantaloupe (¼) 50 370
Lentils (½ cup cooked) 120 370
Pinto beans (½ cup cooked) 120 370
Tomato sauce (½ cup) 30 360
Avocado (½ cup) 120 360
Spinach (2 cups raw) 10 340
Shelled edamame (½ cup cooked) 100 340
Peach or nectarine (1) 60 290
Brussels sprouts (½ cup cooked) 30 250
Orange (1) 70 240
Romaine lettuce (2 cups raw) 10 230
Apple (1) 100 200

6. Limit alcohol: 4 points

If you drink, stop at one drink a day for women or two for men.

The information in this post first appeared in the January 2018 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

Find this article interesting and useful?
Order a copy of Safe & Easy Steps to Lower Your Blood Pressure. Nine out of 10 Americans will eventually have high blood pressure and, with it, an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, dementia, and more. Eating the right diet, losing weight, and exercising can keep your pressure under control. And, if you do have hypertension, it can lower your pressure as much as—or more than—prescription drugs. This booklet, from the editors of Nutrition Action, shows you how. (48 pages)

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7-Day Healthy Blood Pressure Meal Plan: 1,200 Calories

By Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D., C.D., Digital Meal Plan Editor

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 75 million American adults have high blood pressure (that’s 1 in 3 adults). Some people may not even know they’re included in this statistic, because this condition usually presents with no symptoms. Untreated, high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Fortunately, eating a balanced diet and leading an overall healthy lifestyle can help to keep blood pressure levels in check. The meals and snacks in this 7-day 1,200-calorie meal plan follow both the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating pattern and the American Heart Association recommendations for a heart-healthy diet. You’ll find plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado. We included lots of high-potassium foods, such as cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and white beans, and seasoned dishes with just a little bit of salt-a combination that works together to keep blood pressure balanced. Lowering your blood pressure can sometimes be about more than just your diet. Talk to your doctor about adding in an exercise program and other healthy lifestyle factors (think: not smoking or decreasing daily stress).

Read more about the DASH diet.

Watch: How to Make Avocado & Shrimp Chopped Salad

Day 1

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Breakfast (266 calories)
Salsa & Egg Toast
• 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
• 1 large egg, cooked in 1/4 tsp. olive oil or coat pan with a thin layer of cooking spray (1-second spray). Season with a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.
• 2 Tbsp. salsa
Top toast with egg and salsa.
• 1 medium banana

A.M. Snack (63 calories)
• 3/4 cup blueberries

Lunch (343 calories)
White Beans & Veggie Salad
• 2 cups mixed greens
• 3/4 cup veggies of your choice (try cucumbers and tomatoes)
• 1/3 cup white beans, rinsed
• 1/2 avocado, diced
Combine ingredients and top salad with 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar, 2 tsp. olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

  • Dinner(449 calories)
  • 1 servingGarlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/2 cup cooked lentils seasoned with a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper

Day 2

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Plan Ahead: Prepare the Roasted Beet Salad through Step 4 and refrigerate overnight.

Breakfast (268 calories)
Strawberry Oatmeal
• 1/2 cup rolled oats, cooked in 1 cup skim milk
• 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
Cook oats and top with strawberries and a pinch of cinnamon.

A.M. Snack (109 calories)
• 2 cups cubed cantaloupe

Lunch (318 calories)
Veggie-Hummus Sandwich
• 2 slices whole-wheat bread
• 3 Tbsp. hummus
• 1/4 avocado, mashed
• 1/4 medium red bell pepper, sliced
• 1/4 cup cucumber slices
• 1 cup mixed greens
Spread each slice of bread with hummus and avocado. Top one slice with vegetables and press the slices together to make a sandwich.

P.M. Snack (50 calories)
• 2 medium carrots

  • Dinner(472 calories)
  • 1 servingSpaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes, Beans & Almond Pesto
  • 1 diagonal slice baguette (1/4 inch thick), preferably whole-wheat, topped with 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese and toasted

Day 3

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Plan Ahead: Cook an extra 3 oz. of chicken tonight and pack it up with 2/3 cup of the Roasted Beet Salad for lunch tomorrow.

Breakfast (270 calories)
Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait
• 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
• 1/4 cup blueberries
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. slivered almonds
Top yogurt with blueberries and almonds.
• 1 2/3 cups cubed cantaloupe

A.M. Snack (50 calories)
• 2 medium carrots

Lunch (347 calories)
Mixed Greens with Lentils & Sliced Apple
• 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
• 1/2 cup cooked lentils
• 1 apple, sliced
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
Top greens with lentils, 1/2 of the apple slices and feta. Dress the salad with 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar and 2 tsp. olive oil. Serve the remaining apple slices on the side.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

  • Dinner(448 calories)
  • 1 1/3 cupsRoasted Beet Salad
  • 4 oz. chicken breast, cooked in 1 tsp. olive oil and seasoned with 1/4 tsp. cumin and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper

Day 4

Plan Ahead: Tonight, set aside 2 extra tortillas, 1/2 cup beans and 1/2 cup corn at dinner to have for lunch tomorrow.

Breakfast (270 calories)
White Bean & Avocado Toast
• 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
• 1/2 avocado, mashed
• 1/4 cup canned white beans, rinsed and mashed
Top toast with mashed avocado and white beans. Season with a pinch each of kosher salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.

A.M. Snack (50 calories)
• 2 medium carrots

Lunch (341 calories)
Green Salad with Chicken
• 2 cups mixed greens
• 3 oz. leftover cooked chicken breast
• 2/3 cup Roasted Beet Salad
Combine ingredients and top with 2 tsp. each lemon juice and olive oil.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

Dinner (472 calories)
Black Bean & Corn Tacos
• 2 corn tortillas, warmed
• 1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and mashed
• 1/2 cup corn
• 1/2 avocado, diced
• 1/4 cup salsa
Spread tortillas with beans. Top with corn, avocado and salsa.
• 2 cups mixed greens, topped with 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 2 tsp. olive oil and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.

Day 5

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Breakfast (288 calories)
Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait
• 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
• 1/4 cup blueberries
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. slivered almonds
Top yogurt with blueberries and almonds.
• 2 cups cubed cantaloupe

A.M. Snack (13 calories)
• 1/2 bell pepper, sliced

Lunch (336 calories)
Toaster-Oven Tostadas
• 2 corn tortillas
• 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed
• 1/2 cup corn
• 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
• 2 Tbsp. shredded Cheddar cheese
Top tortillas with beans, corn, bell pepper and cheese. Toast until the cheese begins to melt.

P.M. Snack (42 calories)
• 1/2 cup blueberries

  • Dinner(428 calories)
  • 2 1/2 cupsAvocado & Shrimp Chopped Salad
  • 1 diagonal slice baguette (1/4 inch thick), preferably whole-wheat, toasted

Evening Snack (84 calories)
• 2 kiwis

Day 6

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Plan Ahead: Pack up 1 1/2 cups of the Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes for lunch tomorrow.

Breakfast (266 calories)
Banana Oatmeal
• 1/3 cup rolled oats, cooked in 2/3 cup milk
• 1 medium banana, sliced
Cook oats and top with banana and a pinch of cinnamon.

  • A.M. Snack(136 calories)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Lunch (308 calories)
Tuna & White Bean Salad
• 1/2 cup canned white beans, rinsed
• 2 1/2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) chunk light tuna in water, drained
• 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1/2 cucumber, sliced
• 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• 2 cups mixed greens
Combine beans, tuna, tomatoes and cucumber. Toss with vinegar, oil and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper. Serve over greens.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

  • Dinner(440 calories)
  • 1 1/2 cupsChicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 cups mixed greens, topped with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp. olive oil and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.

Day 7

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Breakfast (255 calories)
Egg & Tomato Tortilla
• 1 corn tortilla
• 1 large egg, cooked in 1/4 tsp. olive oil or coat pan with a thin layer of cooking spray (1-second spray). Season with a pinch of pepper.
• 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
Top tortilla with egg and tomatoes.
• 1 medium banana

A.M. Snack (109 calories)
• 2 cups cubed cantaloupe

Lunch (324 calories)
• 1 1/2 cups Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes

P.M. Snack (46 calories)
• 1 cup strawberries

Dinner (446 calories)
• 1 serving Stuffed Delicata Squash
• 2 cups mixed greens
• 1/4 cup grated carrot
Top greens with carrot and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. olive oil.

Note: This meal plan is controlled for calories, fiber, saturated fat, sodium and potassium. If another nutrient is of particular concern, speak with your health-care provider about altering this meal plan to better suit your individual health needs.

By Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D., C.D., Digital Meal Plan Editor

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 75 million American adults have high blood pressure (that’s 1 in 3 adults). Some people may not even know they’re included in this statistic, because this condition usually presents with no symptoms. Untreated, high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Fortunately, eating a balanced diet and leading an overall healthy lifestyle can help to keep blood pressure levels in check. The meals and snacks in this 7-day 1,200-calorie meal plan follow both the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating pattern and the American Heart Association recommendations for a heart-healthy diet. You’ll find plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado. We included lots of high-potassium foods, such as cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and white beans, and seasoned dishes with just a little bit of salt-a combination that works together to keep blood pressure balanced. Lowering your blood pressure can sometimes be about more than just your diet. Talk to your doctor about adding in an exercise program and other healthy lifestyle factors (think: not smoking or decreasing daily stress).

Read more about the DASH diet.

Watch: How to Make Avocado & Shrimp Chopped Salad

Image zoom

Breakfast (266 calories)
Salsa & Egg Toast
• 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
• 1 large egg, cooked in 1/4 tsp. olive oil or coat pan with a thin layer of cooking spray (1-second spray). Season with a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.
• 2 Tbsp. salsa
Top toast with egg and salsa.
• 1 medium banana

A.M. Snack (63 calories)
• 3/4 cup blueberries

Lunch (343 calories)
White Beans & Veggie Salad
• 2 cups mixed greens
• 3/4 cup veggies of your choice (try cucumbers and tomatoes)
• 1/3 cup white beans, rinsed
• 1/2 avocado, diced
Combine ingredients and top salad with 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar, 2 tsp. olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

  • Dinner(449 calories)
  • 1 servingGarlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/2 cup cooked lentils seasoned with a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper

Image zoom

Plan Ahead: Prepare the Roasted Beet Salad through Step 4 and refrigerate overnight.

Breakfast (268 calories)
Strawberry Oatmeal
• 1/2 cup rolled oats, cooked in 1 cup skim milk
• 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
Cook oats and top with strawberries and a pinch of cinnamon.

A.M. Snack (109 calories)
• 2 cups cubed cantaloupe

Lunch (318 calories)
Veggie-Hummus Sandwich
• 2 slices whole-wheat bread
• 3 Tbsp. hummus
• 1/4 avocado, mashed
• 1/4 medium red bell pepper, sliced
• 1/4 cup cucumber slices
• 1 cup mixed greens
Spread each slice of bread with hummus and avocado. Top one slice with vegetables and press the slices together to make a sandwich.

P.M. Snack (50 calories)
• 2 medium carrots

  • Dinner(472 calories)
  • 1 servingSpaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes, Beans & Almond Pesto
  • 1 diagonal slice baguette (1/4 inch thick), preferably whole-wheat, topped with 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese and toasted

Image zoom

Plan Ahead: Cook an extra 3 oz. of chicken tonight and pack it up with 2/3 cup of the Roasted Beet Salad for lunch tomorrow.

Breakfast (270 calories)
Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait
• 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
• 1/4 cup blueberries
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. slivered almonds
Top yogurt with blueberries and almonds.
• 1 2/3 cups cubed cantaloupe

A.M. Snack (50 calories)
• 2 medium carrots

Lunch (347 calories)
Mixed Greens with Lentils & Sliced Apple
• 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
• 1/2 cup cooked lentils
• 1 apple, sliced
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
Top greens with lentils, 1/2 of the apple slices and feta. Dress the salad with 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar and 2 tsp. olive oil. Serve the remaining apple slices on the side.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

  • Dinner(448 calories)
  • 1 1/3 cupsRoasted Beet Salad
  • 4 oz. chicken breast, cooked in 1 tsp. olive oil and seasoned with 1/4 tsp. cumin and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper

Plan Ahead: Tonight, set aside 2 extra tortillas, 1/2 cup beans and 1/2 cup corn at dinner to have for lunch tomorrow.

Breakfast (270 calories)
White Bean & Avocado Toast
• 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
• 1/2 avocado, mashed
• 1/4 cup canned white beans, rinsed and mashed
Top toast with mashed avocado and white beans. Season with a pinch each of kosher salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.

A.M. Snack (50 calories)
• 2 medium carrots

Lunch (341 calories)
Green Salad with Chicken
• 2 cups mixed greens
• 3 oz. leftover cooked chicken breast
• 2/3 cup Roasted Beet Salad
Combine ingredients and top with 2 tsp. each lemon juice and olive oil.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

Dinner (472 calories)
Black Bean & Corn Tacos
• 2 corn tortillas, warmed
• 1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and mashed
• 1/2 cup corn
• 1/2 avocado, diced
• 1/4 cup salsa
Spread tortillas with beans. Top with corn, avocado and salsa.
• 2 cups mixed greens, topped with 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 2 tsp. olive oil and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.

Image zoom

Breakfast (288 calories)
Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait
• 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
• 1/4 cup blueberries
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. slivered almonds
Top yogurt with blueberries and almonds.
• 2 cups cubed cantaloupe

A.M. Snack (13 calories)
• 1/2 bell pepper, sliced

Lunch (336 calories)
Toaster-Oven Tostadas
• 2 corn tortillas
• 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed
• 1/2 cup corn
• 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
• 2 Tbsp. shredded Cheddar cheese
Top tortillas with beans, corn, bell pepper and cheese. Toast until the cheese begins to melt.

P.M. Snack (42 calories)
• 1/2 cup blueberries

  • Dinner(428 calories)
  • 2 1/2 cupsAvocado & Shrimp Chopped Salad
  • 1 diagonal slice baguette (1/4 inch thick), preferably whole-wheat, toasted

Evening Snack (84 calories)
• 2 kiwis

Image zoom

Plan Ahead: Pack up 1 1/2 cups of the Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes for lunch tomorrow.

Breakfast (266 calories)
Banana Oatmeal
• 1/3 cup rolled oats, cooked in 2/3 cup milk
• 1 medium banana, sliced
Cook oats and top with banana and a pinch of cinnamon.

  • A.M. Snack(136 calories)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Lunch (308 calories)
Tuna & White Bean Salad
• 1/2 cup canned white beans, rinsed
• 2 1/2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) chunk light tuna in water, drained
• 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1/2 cucumber, sliced
• 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• 2 cups mixed greens
Combine beans, tuna, tomatoes and cucumber. Toss with vinegar, oil and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper. Serve over greens.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

  • Dinner(440 calories)
  • 1 1/2 cupsChicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 cups mixed greens, topped with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp. olive oil and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.

Image zoom

Breakfast (255 calories)
Egg & Tomato Tortilla
• 1 corn tortilla
• 1 large egg, cooked in 1/4 tsp. olive oil or coat pan with a thin layer of cooking spray (1-second spray). Season with a pinch of pepper.
• 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
Top tortilla with egg and tomatoes.
• 1 medium banana

A.M. Snack (109 calories)
• 2 cups cubed cantaloupe

Lunch (324 calories)
• 1 1/2 cups Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes

P.M. Snack (46 calories)
• 1 cup strawberries

Dinner (446 calories)
• 1 serving Stuffed Delicata Squash
• 2 cups mixed greens
• 1/4 cup grated carrot
Top greens with carrot and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. olive oil.

Note: This meal plan is controlled for calories, fiber, saturated fat, sodium and potassium. If another nutrient is of particular concern, speak with your health-care provider about altering this meal plan to better suit your individual health needs.

What the DASH Diet is Really Doing to Your Body

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Am I the only one who groans when I hear about a new diet plan?

Whether it’s Atkins, Paleo, or some combination of the two, I always feel that diets focus on restrictions instead of inclusion. You can’t eat carbs, you can’t have too much fat, you can’t have sugar, etc.

When people typically follow a diet, they’re aiming at weight loss, and steer toward healthiness as an added benefit. But what about a diet that aims to actually make you healthier?

Well, according to the creators of the DASH diet, that’s exactly what will happen if you follow their dietary recommendations.

While the DASH diet wasn’t created for people to lose weight, supporters believe that if you stick to their focus on fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains, and low fat or non fat dairy, you’re not only going to lose weight, but you’ll also start to wean yourself off of medications used to control high blood pressure and even diabetes.

Hold on a minute, I thought to myself.

If a diet really promises to get people off their prescription medications, or keep others from having to start these medications, I certainly needed to learn more about it.

What Is The DASH Diet?

The letters in DASH stand for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is thought to affect 50 million people in the U.S. and about 1 billion people worldwide.

Hypertension is definitely something you want to avoid. We know that high blood pressure is directly related to heart disease. The higher your blood pressure, the more likely you are to suffer from scary issues like heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and even heart failure.

The World Health Report done by the World Health Organization estimates that hypertension results in “approximately 7.1 million deaths per year”.

This unhealthy trend towards rising hypertension numbers led the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to start researching a way to reduce these numbers and get people to lead healthier lives.

How The DASH Diet Was Researched And Created

Between 1992 and July 1997, researchers tested 459 healthy men and women who averaged about 46 years old and had blood pressure between 160/80-95. African-American and other minority groups are prone to high blood pressure, so researchers aimed to make two-thirds of the participants reflect this demographic.

Participants were asked to follow one of three diets; a control diet that was low in fiber and minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, but had a “typical American” fat and protein profile, an experimental diet that was similar to the control diet, but included more fruits and vegetables and fewer sweets, and a third diet that was abundant in fruits, veggies, low fat dairy, lean protein, whole grains, and fiber, but lower in fat, red meat, and sugar.

This third diet became what we now know as the DASH diet.

When the subjects’ results were analyzed, researchers discovered that the DASH diet had some pretty amazing results.

Can The DASH Diet Reduce High Blood Pressure?

To fully grasp the claim that the DASH diet lowers high blood pressure, we first have to see what normal blood pressure ranges look like.

As the American Heart Association (AHA) explains, blood pressure is recorded as a ratio of two numbers: systolic and diastolic. So for example, normal blood pressure may read something like 117/76 (read as 117 over 76).

The top number is the systolic number; it’s the higher number in the ratio and “measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts)”.

The bottom number, or the diastolic number, is the low number that “measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood)”.

The AHA uses this chart as a guideline for determining the ranges of normal to high blood pressure:

A study in the Annals of Epidemiology reports that if you’re between 40-70 years old, each rise in systolic blood pressure (SBP) by 20 points, and each rise in diastolic blood pressure (DBP) by ten points, “doubles” the risk of cardiovascular disease across the entire blood pressure range.

Researchers from the DASH study saw that the DASH diet reduced SBP by 5.5 points, and DBP by 3 points or more.

While this reduction is great, participants who already had hypertension saw even larger reductions; they reduced 11.4 points from their SBP numbers and 5.5 points or more from their DBP numbers.

So now that we know the DASH diet definitely works to lower high blood pressure, we can start to analyze why it works.

What You Can Eat On The DASH Diet

The US Department of Agriculture named the DASH diet as one of the healthiest eating plans people could follow. The other diets in this club include vegetarianism, veganism, and the Mediterranean diet; all plans that place emphasis on fruits and veggies.

In fact, some people have referred to the DASH diet as an “Americanized” version of the Mediterranean diet, since it also focuses on readily available lean meats, whole grains, and unprocessed food.

This wasn’t an accident; researchers in the original DASH trials purposefully tested conventionally consumed ingredients in the US in the event that their results were positive. By choosing readily available foods, researchers hoped that the public would be able to easily adopt the diet and follow the plan successfully.

Unlike some diets that restrict calories, the DASH diet encourages followers to adhere to the recommended daily caloric intake based on age and activity level.

Here are the recommended daily food servings according to the DASH diet:

Notice anything about this list of food?

Well, it’s exactly the type of healthy food I encourage people to eat. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the variety of foods on this list.

Whole Grains

Unlike sugary, processed grains like white bread, whole grains contain more fiber, minerals, and nutrients.

Eating whole grains helps reduce your risk of high blood pressure by:

  • Aiding in weight control, since whole grain foods can make you feel full longer
  • Increasing your intake of potassium, which is linked to lower blood pressure
  • Decreasing your risk of insulin resistance
  • Reducing damage to your blood vessels

Fruits

Many fruits are packed with potassium, which has been studied extensively for its blood pressure lowering abilities.

Potassium is super important for us because it helps balance the electrolytes in our bodies.

Take bananas for instance.

Most people typically think of bananas when they hear the word potassium, and they’re not wrong. A study discovered that eating two bananas every day for two weeks actually lowered blood pressure by 10% due to their potassium content.

But bananas aren’t the only fruits your heart will thank you for eating.

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes, all have minimal amounts of sodium (if any) and contain healthy vitamins and minerals. In fact, oranges alone contain 326 mg of potassium.

You know I couldn’t forget to include my favorite fruit, avocado. Besides all the heart healthy minerals, vitamins, and monounsaturated fat, avocados have 690 mg of potassium.

But potassium isn’t the only heart helper.

Researchers at Florida State University studied watermelon for its ability to regulate blood pressure due to it being “one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline”, an amino acid that the body converts into L-arginine, which improves circulation. They discovered that watermelon, due to its high L-citrulline, may prevent pre-hypertension from becoming full blown hypertension.

Furthermore, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that anthocyanins, which are “mainly in fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, black currants, eggplants, and blood oranges — seem to protect against high blood pressure” as well.

These are just a few of the many awesome, beneficial reasons to incorporate more fruit into your diet. And the same goes for veggies.

Vegetables

Veggies are an incredible source of fiber. According to the Journal of Hypertension, it’s been widely accepted that having a high fiber diet causes significant reductions in blood pressure. So it’s no wonder the DASH diet encourages followers to consume four to six servings of fiber filled veggies every day.

If you’re trying to figure out how to add more veggies to your diet, or diversify the veggies on your typical menu, try using this chart from the American Heart Association that organizes fruits and veggies by color. You should try eating from every color group every day.

I find that kids love this idea and it’s a great way to sneak extra fruits and veggies onto their plates.

Dairy

According to an article in US News, after the AHA spent 14 years following the diets of more than 2,000 adults who did not have high blood pressure, they discovered that “participants who ate more non fat yogurt were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who ate less non fat yogurt”.

Sure, we know that dairy is fortified with calcium and rich in protein, but what may surprise you is that low fat or non fat dairy is good for your heart because of the potassium and magnesium too. If you want to include some whole fat dairy, that’s fine, just watch your calories.

Lean Meats, Fish, and Poultry

Meat is rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, zinc, and of course, protein. Generally it’s best to opt for leaner cuts, as it’s easy to overdo your calorie and fat goals by overconsuming fatty cuts of meat.

As an article in Time points out: “Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are your leanest poultry choices; as for beef, round steaks and roasts, top loin, top sirloin, chuck shoulder, and arm roasts are the leanest cuts”.

When you’re buying ground meat, try to look for packages that are 90-97% lean.

Fish may be your best pick for healthiest meat options, especially cold water fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. These fish are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3s have been shown to “lower levels of triglycerides (fats in the blood), and to lower the risk of death, heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythms in people who have already had a heart attack”.

Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes

Just like eggs and avocado, nuts have long been lumped into the bad-for-you high fat category. But guess what?

All three of these food items are good for you.

According to the Mayo Clinic, nuts are packed with protein and contain some of these heart healthy substances:

  • Unsaturated fats: these “good” fats lower bad cholesterol levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids that prevent dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.
  • Fiber to lower cholesterol and make you feel full, so you eat less.
  • L-arginine that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

Legumes like beans, lentils, and peas are affordable and plentiful food options that have been staples in diets around the world. They’re full of protein, fiber, magnesium, and potassium.

You’d have to agree that 82% is astonishingly high to ignore.

Additionally, many beans and lentils are packed with folate, which is a vitamin that “helps prevent the build-up of the amino acid homocysteine – elevated levels of which are a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke”.

While legumes and nuts may be the smallest additions on the DASH food list, they are certainly not the least effective. I always recommend adding these unglamorous yet fantastic guys to meals multiple times a week.

What The DASH Diet Really Does To Your Body

US News & World Report ranked the DASH diet as the number one diet to follow in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

And I have to admit that it’s a good choice.

I’m all about healing our bodies with natural remedies and eating well as the best prescription for preventable illnesses like heart disease.

What the DASH diet does to your body is the same as what expensive prescription medicines do to for body; it lowers your blood pressure and helps prevent you from experiencing heart attacks, strokes, and even heart failure.

We should all be following healthy plans like the DASH diet even if we’re not in the high blood pressure danger zone. Heart health is so important because it affects everything else in our bodies.

If you’re worried about hypertension, speak to your doctor about following the DASH diet before you start prescription medications. If you’re already on medication, ask your doctor if following the DASH diet will help wean yourself off of these medicines in time.

What’s your take on the DASH Diet? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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Low-carb, calorie-counting, low-fat, intermittent fasting, vegan, raw food — is your head spinning yet? Deciding to go on a diet is hard enough on its own, but sometimes, choosing the right one for you is just as challenging.

Many diets are only about weight loss — eat less or eat healthier, and you’ll drop the pounds. But some diets have added benefits for different areas of your health, such as heart health, brain functioning, and even lifespan.

In general, there is a certain amount of calories — usually 2,000 — that you need each day. From those calories, there is also a recommended amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. These amounts are all based on the 2,000 per day recommendation, but everyone will have their own individual needs. Your physician or nutritionist can tell you exactly what’s best for you.

Three diets — the ketogenic (keto), paleolithic (paleo), and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet — may affect your overall health in more ways than one. Here’s what you should know about each and what they can do for you.

The Ketogenic Diet: High Fat, Low Carb

Generally, popular ketogenic resources suggest an average of 70 to 80% fat from total daily calories, 10 to 20% from protein, and 5 to 10% from carbohydrates. For a 2000-calorie diet, this translates to about 165 grams fat, 75 grams protein, and 40 grams carbohydrates.

Normally, your body uses glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates to create energy. But on the keto diet, there’s not enough glucose for your body to use, so this makes your body burn fat instead of glucose for energy.

Keto-friendly foods include:

  • Seafood
  • Low-carb vegetables, such as spinach or kale
  • Cheese
  • Avocados
  • Meat and poultry
  • Eggs
  • Coconut oil
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Nuts
  • Berries

In reaction to eating mostly fat, your liver will make more ketones — compounds in your body that break down fat cells — which helps you lose weight and become physically stronger. This is called going into ketosis.

Other Health Benefits of the Keto Diet

Diets that resemble the keto diet have been used for hundreds of years to combat many diseases and conditions. In addition to weight loss, going into ketosis may also:

  • Reduce seizures from epilepsy: The way the keto diet changes your metabolism also impacts a specific bacteria in your gut that silences neurons that cause seizures. It’s been shown to be effective for ⅓ of adults with epilepsy who are resistant to traditional anti-seizure drugs.
  • Slow the growth of cancer: The keto diet can actually help reduce tumor growth and even enhance the way your body responds to traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy.
  • Enhance your memory: The keto diet may spark the growth of a bacteria in your gut that play a role in your cognitive abilities, meaning it can fight cognitive decline from diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Increase your lifespan: Eating a high-fat, low-carb diet can slow the aging process, making you live longer than if you were on a normal diet.

What Are the Risks of the Keto Diet?

While there are many benefits to the keto diet, there are some drawbacks because of restrictions on certain food groups. For example, you may experience:

  • Difficulty following the diet for long periods of time
  • Risk of heart and vascular disease because of foods high in saturated fat
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath
  • Stomach problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation
  • Trouble sleeping

Also, people with kidney disease may want to avoid the keto diet, as it could worsen their condition.

The Paleolithic Diet: Eat Like Your Ancestors

Often referred to as the caveman diet, the paleolithic (paleo) diet consists of only eating plants and animals that people ate during the Stone Age, including:

  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Olive oils
  • Avocados

On the diet, you don’t eat what you can’t find in nature — dairy products, foods with added salt, and refined fats or sugars, such as in cereal or bread.

Good fats (saturated fats) are found in foods such as fish and nuts, and bad fats (unsaturated fats) are found in foods like cheese and butter. Bad fats can lead to high levels of insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar), which can cause you to gain weight.

By eating foods with higher amounts of good fat, your insulin levels may be healthier, allowing you to lose weight.

The food you eat ends up in your blood, which can affect your insulin levels and affect your weight. Eating a paleolithic-type diet can help you lose weight because you’ll have more good fats than bad fats, leading to healthier insulin levels.

Other Health Benefits of the Paleo Diet

While some people are on the paleo diet to lose weight, there are other benefits of following this eating plan:

  • Lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes: Reducing the level of bad fats in your blood makes it healthier. High levels of bad fats in your blood require your heart to work harder, which can cause heart and vascular disease. It can also heighten your insulin levels, leading to diabetes.
  • Improve your heart health: People on the paleo diet may produce more of a molecule called interleukin-10 — which counteracts inflammation (swelling) and protects your blood vessels. Low levels of interleukin-10 and inflamed blood vessels increase the risk of a heart attack, so interleukin-10 may reduce that risk.

What Are the Risks of the Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet entirely cuts out some foods — many of which have important health benefits, such as:

  • Dairy, which can help prevent osteoporosis
  • Whole grains, which have fiber and can reduce your blood cholesterol levels, lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Beans and legumes, which have key vitamins such as vitamin B, folate, potassium, and zinc

It can also be difficult to stick to the paleo diet for long periods of time, as a number of foods are restricted.

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

DASH is a flexible, easy-to-follow eating plan — and it doesn’t require any special foods. Instead, it gives you daily and weekly nutritional goals. It’s all about balancing food groups and avoiding unhealthy foods.

The plan recommends eating:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Vegetable oils

It also suggests you limit foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils — like coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils. You should also avoid too much sugar in your drinks or food.

You can follow DASH to improve your health or to lose weight. If your goal is to lose weight, simply eat fewer calories than you burn through exercise and other activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Other Health Benefits of the DASH Diet

The DASH diet is very simple, but very effective. By eating enough healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy ones, your body can benefit in several ways including:

  • Improve your cholesterol levels: Saturated fat has a lot of cholesterol, and too much cholesterol can build up in your arteries, putting you at risk for heart attack or stroke. The DASH diet recommends avoiding foods with saturated fat, such as high-fat dairy products and sweets.
  • Lower your blood pressure: When there’s too much cholesterol in your arteries, there’s less room for the blood to flow through, making your blood pressure rise. This can lead to heart problems, such as arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) or heart attack.

What are the Risks of the DASH Diet?

The DASH diet is all about eating healthy. You’re not completely restricting any foods — and you’re prioritizing the healthy ones. Because the DASH diet is all about balanced nutrition, it doesn’t have any risks.

Eating Healthy on Any Diet

Not sure which diet is right for you? Think about what your end goal is and what you’re willing to do to accomplish it. Can you cut out entire food groups? Are you willing to track your calories? What other aspects of your health are you looking to improve aside from your weight? Answering these questions can help you decide on the best diet for you.

Talk to your health care provider about the best way to approach the diet you choose to make sure you’re staying healthy and getting the nutrients you need. And once you choose a diet, find ways to stick with it. Grab a friend to join you, keep a meal planning chart on your fridge, or write inspirational quotes on a sticky-note to put in the fridge. A diet will only be successful if you put in the work.

Got questions about the keto, paleo, or DASH diet, or other ways to eat healthily? Call (785) 270-4440 to set up an appointment to discuss your goals with a Stormont Vail primary care provider.

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A typical modern North American diet is high in saturated fats, omega 6 fatty acids, high glycemic load carbohydrates, and many artificial additives. This unhealthy diet combined with little training in nutrition among the medical professionals is being considered a major setback in tackling these diseases. Fortunately, there has been tremendous research done in the last few decades examining the effects of dietary patterns on chronic diseases. This information is easily available to physicians online.

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet originated in the 1990s. In 1992, the National Institute of Health (NIH) started funding for several research projects to see if specific dietary interventions were useful in treating hypertension. Subjects included in the study were advised to follow just the dietary interventions and not include any other lifestyle modifications, in order to avoid any confounding factors. They found that just the dietary intervention alone was able to decrease systolic Blood Pressure by about 6 to 11 mm Hg. This effect was seen both in hypertensive as well as normotensive people. Based on these results, in some instances DASH has been advocated as the first line pharmacologic therapy along with lifestyle modification.

What does this diet include? Simply, DASH promotes consumption of vegetables and fruits, lean meat and dairy products and the inclusion of micronutrients in the diet. It also advocates the reduction of sodium in the diet to about 1500 mg/day. DASH emphasizes on consumption of minimally processed and fresh food. DASH diet has many similarities to some of the other dietary patterns which are promoted for cardiovascular health. DASH diet is basically a culmination of the ancient and modern world. It has been derived by scientists based on certain ancient dietary principles and has been tailored to target some of the leading killers of the modern society.

A typical serving guide for a patient following DASH diet is as follows:

  1. Vegetables: about 5 servings per day
  2. Fruits: about 5 servings per day
  3. Carbohydrates: about 7 servings per day
  4. Low-fat dairy products: about 2 servings per day
  5. Lean meat products: about 2 or fewer servings per day
  6. Nuts and seeds: 2 to 3 times per week

Following is a closer look at these recommendations.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates in the diet are mainly composed of cellulose and starches. The human body cannot digest cellulose. It is mainly present in plant fiber. Healthy starches or “carbs” have to be included in the diet, not just for the energy supply but also for the protective micronutrients. Low carb diets are not healthy as that may lead to either decreased caloric intake than recommended or consumption of unhealthy fats as a substitute.

Healthy carbohydrates included under DASH include:

  • Green leafy vegetables: kale, broccoli, spinach, collards, mustards
  • Whole grains: cracked wheat, millets, oats
  • Low glycemic index fruits
  • Legumes and beans

Fats

Fats have been a prime suspect for some time now, in the development of the chronic disease epidemic. However, research has now shown otherwise. Fats are now classified as good fats and bad fats.

Good fats prevent inflammation, provide essential fatty acids and promote overall health. These fats, when consumed in moderation, have shown an increase in HDL and lowering of small dense LDL particles. Some of the sources of good fats also included in DASH include:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Hempseeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids

Bad fats which include margarine, vegetable shortenings, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, cause increase in small LDL particles, which promote atherogenesis.

Fats are a highly condensed source of energy and therefore have to be consumed in moderation. The serving sizes are much smaller than that for other nutrients on the DASH recommendations.

Proteins

DASH recommends more servings of plant proteins like legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds.

Animal protein in the diet should mainly compose of lean meats, low-fat dairy, eggs, and fish.

Processed and cured meats are not recommended as they have shown to cause hypertension and also contain carcinogens.

DASH diet also talks about the inclusion of certain foods which are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium as these prevent endothelial dysfunction and promote endothelial, smooth muscle relaxation. Some of the foods rich in potassium include bananas, oranges, and spinach. Calcium is rich in dairy products and green leafy vegetables. Magnesium is present in a variety of whole grains, leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

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