It just might be the most unappreciated diet in the world. The DASH Diet is designed to reduce your blood pressure, minimize your risk of heart disease and help you lose weight, according to the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). U.S. News and World Report surveyed health experts about a variety of diets, and they awarded the DASH diet as the best overall in multiple areas. Should you try it? Read on to find out more.
First, before you change your diet, talk with your health care provider to get expert input that’s personalized for your own needs. Second, make sure that you understand the importance of limiting sodium on the DASH diet, because that plays a key role in reducing your blood pressure, according to the NHLBI. You should aim for 1,500 mg to 2,300 mg sodium daily (your doctor can tell you which level is right for you). In addition, you’ll eat:
Grains: 6 to 8 servings a day. For example, you can eat one slice of whole wheat bread, an ounce of dry cereal or ½ cup of cooked cereal. Try Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Flakes for breakfast.
Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings a day: Enjoy a cup of raw veggies or ½ cup of cooked vegetables. For your lunch, enjoy a salad with Tillen Farms Crispy Pickled Asparagus over lettuce.
Fruits: 4 to 5 servings a day: A serving includes one piece of fruit or ½ cup canned fruit or fruit juice. You might enjoy Native Forest Organic Pineapple Chunks for dessert or breakfast.
Dairy: 2 to 3 servings a day. Aim for one cup skim milk, one cup yogurt or 1.5 ounces cheese to equal your dairy serving. For example, you could have plain yogurt mixed with zero-calorie Walden Farms Strawberry Jam for a sweet snack.
Lean meat, poultry and fish: 6 or fewer servings a day: Make sure that they are lean, such as one ounce of skinless chicken. If you choose canned, be sure it’s salt-free such as Natural Sea Yellow Fin Tuna Without Salt.
Nuts, seeds and legumes: 4 to 5 servings a week, with ½ cup of cooked beans, 1/3 cup nuts or 2 tablespoons seeds count as a serving. Try Woodstock Farms Unsalted Raw Almond Butter as a variation.
Fats and oils: 2 to 3 servings a day, which equals one tablespoon mayo or two tablespoons salad dressing, such as Hain Pure Foods Safflower Mayonnaise.
Sweets: 5 or fewer a week, such as one tablespoon of jelly or jam. Look for low-fat or fat-free cookies, for example, such as Miss Meringue Fat-Free Gluten-Free Vanilla Cookies.
Joanne Eglash, Vitacost.com’s Diet Diva, has a master of science in holistic nutrition and more than 15 years experience as a nutrition consultant, blogger, author and journalist. She has written for a wide range of publications and websites, including ediets.com, Natural Health magazine, Shape magazine, Success magazine, Energy for Women and Chefs. Joanne is currently the national Diets columnist for the online news and entertainment site, Examiner.com, and a features food columnist for Yahoo.