High Blood Pressure Diet
What is the DASH diet eating plan?
The DASH diet's eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts and legumes, and low-fat dairy. These foods are high in key nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and protein.
Unlike the "typical American" diet, the DASH diet has less sodium (salt), sugar, desserts, sweetened beverages, fats, and red and processed meats.
To start the DASH diet, follow these food groups and serving amounts (based on 2,000-calories a day):
- Grains: 7-8 daily servings (serving sizes: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice/pasta, 1 ounce dry cereal)
- Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings (serving sizes: 1 cup raw leafy greens, 1/2 cup cooked vegetable)
- Fruits: 4-5 daily servings (serving sizes: 1 medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 6 ounces fruit juice)
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 daily servings (serving sizes: 8 ounces milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1.5 ounces cheese)
- Lean meat, poultry, and fish: 2 or fewer servings a day (serving sizes: 3 ounces cooked meat, poultry, or fish)
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 4-5 servings per week (serving sizes: 1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoon seeds, 1/2 cup cooked dry beans or peas)
- Fats and oils: 2-3 daily servings (serving sizes: 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or soft margarine, 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons light salad dressing)
- Sweets: try to limit to less than 5 servings per week. (serving sizes: 1 tablespoon sugar or jelly/jam)
Aim to cut back to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day (about 1 teaspoon of table salt). Once your body adjusts to the lower-sodium diet, you can lower your salt intake even further to 1,500 milligrams per day (about 2/3 teaspoon table salt).
Of course, first talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian before starting the DASH diet. They can give you more information on food choices and serving sizes.
Also, even on the DASH diet, calories still count, if you need to lose weight. Your doctor or dietitian can explain how to count calories and portion sizes for weight loss.
Which fruits and vegetables are natural sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber?
To increase your intake of potassium, magnesium, and fiber naturally, select from the following:
- beet greens
- green beans
- grapefruit juice
- green peas
- lima beans
- sweet potatoes
- yogurt (fat-free)
How can I lower sodium in my diet?
To lower the sodium in your diet, try these easy suggestions:
- Keep track of the sodium content in the foods you eat. Use a food diary to write down the food, serving size, and amount of sodium.
- Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day (about 1 teaspoon of salt per day). Ask your doctor if you should go lower to 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day.
- Read the nutritional facts label on every food package. The amount of sodium is listed on the label.
- Select foods that have 5% or less of the Daily Value of sodium (this percentage is listed on the nutritional facts label).
- Avoid foods that have 20% or more Daily Value of sodium.
- Avoid canned foods, processed foods and lunch meats, and fast foods.
- Use salt-free seasonings in food preparation.