Posts Tagged ‘dietary approaches to stop hypertension’

The U. S. News & World Report published the 2014 best diets in eight categories. The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) again rated as the best over-all diet and the best diet for healthy eating. What about this diet has caused it to rank number one for the past five years?

The government initially funded research to develop an eating plan to lower blood pressure that resulted in the DASH Diet. The diet scores high because of nutrients provided, safety, and its role in the prevention or control of diabetes and heart disease. While it is not designed for weight loss, those who follow this diet should maintain a healthy weight, and those with excessive body fat should lose extra pounds.

The Dash Diet increases “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides. The diet meets dietary standards for fat, protein, and carbohydrate. It provides ample fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin B-12, nutrients often deficient in diets. Although a little low in vitamin D, eating fortified cereal or foods such as sockeye salmon can help meet nutrient requirements.

The DASH Diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. It limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages, and red meats and is low in saturated and trans fats. Below are guidelines to help follow the DASH Diet.

  • Vegetables: Eat four to five servings a day based on a serving size of one cup raw leafy green vegetables or 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables. Vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, greens and others are high in fiber, vitamins, and such minerals as potassium and magnesium. Use vegetables served over brown rice or whole-wheat noodles as a main dish. Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables are all nutritious choices.
  • Fruits: Eat four to five servings a day based on a serving size of one medium fruit or 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit or 4-ounces  of juice. Fruits are high in fiber, potassium, and magnesium, and all except a few are low in fat. Serve at mealtime for dessert or as a snack.
  • Dairy: Consume two to three servings a day based on serving sizes of one cup skim or one-percent milk, one cup yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounce cheese. These are major sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein.
  • Grains: Eat six to eight servings a day based on serving sizes of one slice whole-wheat bread, one ounce dry cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta. For more fiber and nutrients, choose whole grains. Look for products labeled “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.”
  • Lean meat, poultry, and fish: Eat six or fewer servings a day based on serving sizes of one ounce cooked skinless poultry, seafood, lean meat, or one egg. These are rich sources of protein, B-vitamins, iron, and zinc. Reduce meat portions by one-third or one-half since even lean varieties contain fat and cholesterol. Trim away skin and fat from poultry and meat. Eat heart-healthy fish such as salmon, herring, and tuna.
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes: Choose four to five servings a week based on serving sizes of 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) nuts, 2 tablespoons seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked beans or peas. Almonds, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, peas, lentils and other foods in this family are good sources of magnesium, potassium, and protein as well as fiber and phytochemicals. Nuts contain healthy types of fat—monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids—and can be added to stir-fry, salad, or cereal. Also serve soybean-based products, such as tofu and tempeh, as alternatives to meat.
  • Fats and oils: Use two to three servings a day based on serving sizes of one teaspoon soft margarine, one tablespoon mayonnaise, or two tablespoons salad dressing. While fat is essential in the diet, many people consume too much which can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Choose healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Avoid trans fats that are often found in processed foods such as crackers and baked goods. Read food labels and choose foods lowest in saturated fat and free of trans fat.
  • Sweets: Limit to five or fewer a week. Serving sizes include one tablespoon sugar, jelly or jam, or 1/2 cup sorbet, Cut back on added sugar. Instead, use artificial sweeteners to curb the hunger for sweets.

Following the DASH Diet during 2015 can result in a healthier you. As a reminder, print and clip these guidelines and place on your refrigerator or in a place where you will see them daily. You can eat healthier and reap many rewards.


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In the last blog (Dumb and Dumber Diets in 2012, January 13, 2013), I identified loser diets for last year. If those diets were ridiculous, who were the winners?

Each year nutrition experts evaluate more than 25 diets for the US News & World Report to decide the best overall diet. For the third year in a row, they chose the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Scores were based on whether diets were easy to follow, nutritious, and safe and effective.

The primary focus of the DASH diet, developed by National Institute of Health, is to decrease sodium intake and thereby lower blood pressure. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend a maximum of 2300 milligrams (mg) per day, the equivalent of about one teaspoon of salt. For African-Americans, those over age fifty-one or individuals who have chronic diseases of hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease,the suggested limit is 1500 mg/day. The DASH diet also effectively lowers cholesterol and reduces risks for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

What is this #1 diet? The DASH plan requires no special foods or difficult-to-follow recipes. It is based on eating a specific amount of servings from fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk products, whole grains, and protein foods from lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, and seeds. It is lower in sodium, sweets, added sugars, and fats than what most Americans eat.

If you choose to follow this healthy diet, change your eating pattern slowly. Sudden increased amounts of fiber from fruits, vegetables, and grains may cause bloating and digestive upsets. Symptoms subside as your body system adjusts to healthier fares. The additional fiber is a benefit for overall health. If you eat very few fruits/vegetables, start with a vegetable at lunch the first day—maybe a salad or raw carrot strips—and alternate with a vegetable serving the next day at dinner. Add a fruit of your choice during the day. Gradually add more fruits and vegetables.

Alter milk products to lower the amount of fat in your diet. Begin with 2% products and gradually reduce the amount of fat over a period of weeks. Choose low-fat cottage cheese, yogurt, and other milk products.

The DASH diet is similar to recommendations from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. A daily comparison for a 2000 calorie diet looks like this:

FRUITS: 4 Servings
VEGETABLES: 5 Servings
GRAINS: 6 Servings (1 oz./serving)
At least half from whole grain.
Choose from lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
DAIRY:  3 cups equivalent
Choose low-fat or skim products.

FRUITS: 4-5 Servings
VEGETABLES: 4-5 Servings
GRAINS: 6-8 Servings (1 oz./serving)
At least half from whole grain.
PROTEIN FOODS: Less than 6 oz.
Choose from lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
DAIRY: 2-3 cups equivalent
Choose low-fat or skim products.

Check out more information on the DASH diet at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/dash_brief.pdf.  Find sample menus at: http://dashdiet.org/sample_menu.asp, and see select recipes at: http://dashdiet.org/DASH_diet_recipes.asp

Other good choices are out there, but if you want #1, DASH is the way to go. Why wait to start getting healthier?

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