Dash Eating Plan

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Thomas Johann Seebeck
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The DASH Eating Pattern
Have you heard the buzz about DASH? It’s a new pattern of eating that is recommended
by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a formula for healthy eating.
What exactly is DASH?
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH eating pattern
has been shown to reduce blood pressure but is also a healthy, low-fat, low-sodium plan
that all adults can benefit from. DASH is just one of many ways to control high blood
pressure. Other methods include maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active,
limiting alcohol intake, and taking high blood pressure medicine as prescribed.
Why has DASH been recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?
The DASH eating pattern is based on research that shows that lowering high blood
pressure is best achieved by eating a low-sodium, low-fat diet that is rich in whole grains,
low-fat dairy foods, fruits and vegetables. This diet pattern is similar to other healthful
eating patterns that are suggested to prevent weight gain and chronic diseases like heart
disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. A guide to DASH eating pattern is listed on the
back page of this handout.
How can I cut back on the amount of salt I eat?
Salt (also known as sodium) is found in many processed and packaged food, including
canned vegetables and tomato sauces, frozen and boxed dinners, and salty snack foods
like chips and pretzels. Salt is also common in cured foods like bacon, ham, sausage, and
bologna, pickles, and condiments like soy sauce, catsup, and barbeque sauce. Limiting
these types of foods will dramatically decrease the amount of sodium in your diet.
I’m not sure what whole grain means. Can you define it for me?
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, “whole grains” are whole wheat,
whole grain corn, whole oats or oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, whole rye, whole-grain
barley, wild rice, buckwheat, triticale, bulgur, millet, quinoa, and sorghum. To be sure a
food contains whole grain, look for the term “whole grain” at the top of the ingredient list
for the grain products you choose.
I think it will be too hard to change my eating habits.
Change gradually! Add a serving of vegetables at lunch and one at dinner. Gradually cut
back from whole milk and full-fat cheeses to lower-fat diary foods. Cut back on the
portions of meat you eat. Making a few changes at a time is often easier than changing
your entire diet overnight.
What foods are allowed on the DASH eating pattern?
The table below gives you a guideline that will provide roughly 2000 calories daily
Food Group
Daily Servings
Serving sizes
Comments
Grains and grain
products
7-8
Use at least 3 servings
of whole grain breads
and cereals daily
Vegetables
4-5
Fruits
4-5
Low-fat or fat free dairy
foods
2-3
Meats, poultry and fish
2 or less
1 slice bread
1 oz dry cereal
½ cup cooked pasta,
rice, or cereal
1 cup raw leafy
vegetables
½ cup cooked
vegetables
6 oz vegetable juice
1 medium fruit
¼ cup dried fruit
½ cup fresh, frozen, or
canned fruit
6 oz fruit juice
8 oz milk
1 cup yogurt
1 ½ ounces cheese
3 oz cooked meat,
poultry, or fish
Nuts, seeds, and dry
beans
4-5 per week
Fats and oils
2-3
Sweets
5 per week
1/3 cup or 1 ½ ounces
nuts
2 Tbsp or ½ ounce seeds
½ cup cooked dry beans
or peas
1 tsp soft margarine
1 Tbsp lowfat
mayonnaise
2 Tbsp light salad
dressing
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp jelly or jam
½ ounce jelly beans
8 oz sweetened drinks
Use brightly colored
vegetables for the most
nutrition bang for the
buck.
Use brightly colored
fruits for the most
nutrition bang for the
buck.
Use fat free (skim) or
low-fat milk (1%) and
reduced fat cheeses
Use lean cuts of meat,
remove visible fat, bake,
grill, or roast instead of
frying
Use a variety of nuts and
seeds.
Use a variety of liquid
oils including olive,
corn, sunflower, canola,
peanut safflower, and
soybean
Maple syrup, sugar,
jelly, and all sweetened
beverages.
References:
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Facts About the DASH Eating Pattern.
Accessed December 2006. Available for download at
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/
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