This is a guest blog post by Seuna K. Linda Eva
What is the DASH diet all about?
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is a healthy eating plan which aims at lowering or controlling high blood pressure (hypertension). Beyond reducing blood pressure, the DASH diet offers a number of potential health benefits, including weight loss and reduced chances of developing osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The DASH diet encourages the consumption of foods that are lower in sodium as well as foods that are rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure such as potassium, magnesium and calcium.
Depending on your health needs, you can choose (with the help of your health specialist) from two forms of the DASH diet:
- The standard DASH diet which involves the consumption of up to 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day – a teaspoon of salt.
- The lower sodium DASH diet which involves the consumption of up to 1,500 mg of sodium a day – ⅔ teaspoon of salt.
DASH diet tips
Here are a few general tips to help you get started:
- Use salt-free seasoning blends/herbs and spices (garlic powder, onion, basil, aniseed, citrus juice, black pepper, ginger etc.) to ease the transition from salty to less salty meals.
- Go whole with grains because they have more fiber and nutrients than do refined grains. For example, use brown rice instead of white rice, whole-wheat spaghetti instead of regular spaghetti and whole-wheat bread instead of white bread.
- Gradually add, at lunch and dinner, more tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans and other veggies (cooked/uncooked) which are full of vitamins, fibers, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
- Snack on fruits instead of chips, salted popcorn or pretzels. Just like veggies, fruits are packed with fiber, potassium and magnesium and are typically low in fat though coconut is an exception.
- For your source of calcium, vitamin D and protein, drink low-fat or skim dairy products. Beware of regular and even fat-free cheeses because they are typically high in sodium.
- Trim away skin and fat from poultry and meat and then bake, boil, grill or roast instead of frying in fat. Nevertheless, cut down on your consumption of red meat. Eat heart-healthy fish, such as salmon, herring and tuna.
- Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure. Dietary Guidelines recommends that men limit alcohol to no more than two drinks a day and women to one or less.
- Use only half your typical serving of butter, margarine, or salad dressing, and use low-fat or fat-free condiments.
- Read food labels to choose products that are lower in sodium. Low sodium foods have ≤ less than 140 mg of sodium per serving, while very low sodium products have ≤ less than 35 milligrams sodium per serving.
- If your doctor tells you to limit potassium and phosphorus in your diet, discuss your options with your nutritionist.
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Seuna K. Linda Eva is a Cameroonian-based nutritionist passionate about empowering people to make health-conscious decisions about their diet and lifestyle. She believes you can be healthy without forgoing our delicious African dishes. Co-founder of DietMiam, through her writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching services, she has helped thousands with diet-related disorders (obesity, hypertension, diabetes, gout, etc.) to develop long-term, sustainable lifestyle habits and rediscover the joy of eating.