When discussing heart healthy living options, you may hear your doctor recommending the DASH diet. This go-to doctor recommendation will probably have you asking, “What is the DASH diet?”
A combination of portion control and healthy food selections, the Dash diet is designed to improve overall health and specifically created to help lower high blood pressure.
DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Hypertension is simply another word for high blood pressure. In general, the DASH diet focuses on high fiber, low sodium, and low fat.
What Do I Eat?
The standard DASH diet only allows room for 2,300 mg of sodium every day, and focuses on helping the dieter eat more low fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
On the DASH diet, you will eat small amounts of meat in the form of lean protein from fish, poultry, and legumes.
There is SOME wiggle room for red meat consumption, but since one of the diet’s goals is to keep fat consumption to a minimum, red meat won’t regularly make an appearance on your plate!
Are serving sizes different?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the food group selection involves grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts and legumes, and healthy fats or oils.
The Mayo Clinic suggests:
• 6-8 servings of whole grains daily
• 4-5 servings of fresh vegetables daily
• 4-5 servings of fruit daily
• 2-3 servings of low fat dairy daily
• 2-3 servings of fats and oils
The DASH diet doesn’t demand that you cut out dessert and alcohol completely, but rather limit your portion sizes. Alcohol consumption should be limited to 2 drinks a day or less, and sweet treats should be fat-free and limited to only five small servings every week.
How is this effective?
By lowering your sodium intake, and increasing your intake of nutrients like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and Omega-3 fatty acids, the DASH diet promotes overall heart health.
Will I lose weight?
Any lifestyle change for the healthier will most likely help with weight loss, though the DASH diet is not specifically designed for weight loss.
If you wish to see weight loss results with the DASH diet, it’s possible to tweak things to promote this weight loss. Cut your sodium consumption to even less of the recommended portion, and try to stay away from alcohol and sweets entirely.
You can also, gradually, make calorie cuts. Instead of sticking to a standard, 2,000 calorie per day diet, you might try to stay within a limit of 1,600 calories.
For more heart healthy diet tips, read Heart Healthy Diet-What Does It Really Mean?