Picture source: Flickr, by Masahiro Ihara
The DASH Diet–Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension–was designed for and been successful at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A new study by researchers in John’s Hopkins University found that the diet plan also lowers the risk of heart attacks by almost 20%.
After eight weeks, the DASH dieters, who were eating nine to 11 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, had reduced their risk of heart attack 18 percent compared with those eating the American diet. They also saw their low-density lipoprotein (“bad”) cholesterol levels reduced by about 7 percent and their systolic blood pressure lowered by 7 mm Hg.
What is the DASH diet?
The DASH eating plan is more than just adding fruits and vegetables. It emphasizes whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, beans, and fish. It’s low in fat, saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, red meat, and sweets. It is low in sodium, no more than 1,500 mg a day, and high in fiber and the important minerals calcium and potassium.
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What would you eat in a day on DASH?
On a 2,000 calorie diet (how many calories do you need a day?), someone would eat:
- 6-8 servings of whole grains:
each is 1 slice of whole grain bread, 1 oz whole grain dry unsweetened cereal, 1/2 c cooked whole grain rice or pasta
- 4-5 servings of vegetables:
each is 1 cup raw leafy vegetables. 1/2 cup cooked, or 1/2 cup vegetable juice
each is 1 medium fruit, 1/4 dry unsweetened fruit, 1/2 cup frozen, fresh, canned fruit, or 1/2 cup fruit juice
- 2-3 servings of low fat dairy:
each is 1 cup milk or yogurt, or 1.5 ounces of cheese
- 5-6 servings of fish, poultry, and lean meat:
each is 1 oz of cooked fish, poultry, or meat, or 1 egg
- 4-5 servings A WEEK of Nuts, seeds, and dry beans:
each is 1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoons of seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked beans
- 2-3 servings of unsaturated fats and oils:
each is 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil or soft margarine, or 2 tablespoons of regular salad dressing
- 5 or less A WEEK of sweets, jellies, jams, sugars, jelly beans, lemonade, and such concentrated sweets:
each is 1 tablespoon sugar, jelly, or jam, 1/2 ounces jelly beans, or 8 ounces lemonade.
If you’re in your 20’s, you probably blow off topics like cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease. “Too too much of an old person conversation.” I mean really, how many 21-year-olds talk about their blood pressure levels?
But the fact is, eating the DASH way is good for everyone, with or without heart disease. It’s not so much of a ‘diet.’ You get to eat real foods. It’s not a starvation diet. It’s nothing close to bland. You don’t eliminate any foods. And you still get your sweets–occasionally. I think it’s the way to eat, for everyone.
Check the DASH diet website for details, tips, and recipes.
Have you heard about this diet before? Would you eat this way without having heart disease?