The DASH diet is based on healthy heart guidelines which limits the intake of sugar, sodium, and fats – particularly saturated and trans fats – and emphasises foods rich in nutrients like calcium, potassium, and magnesium that are known to lower blood pressure.
For example, various studies have suggested that potassium reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension, because it offsets the effects of sodium.
In day-to-day life, following the DASH diet generally means eating:
Fruit and vegetables, like apples, strawberries, bananas, broccoli, and carrots.Unsalted nuts, including walnuts and almonds.Legumes and seeds like kidney beans, lentils, and sunflower seeds.Whole grains like brown rice, wheat pasta, and oatmeal.Fat-free and low-fat dairy products, such as reduced fat cheese and skimmed milk.Lean protein sources, like skinless chicken and fish.
On the other hand, foods like red meat, pizza, palm oil, cured meats, maple syrup, sweets, sugary drinks, and alcohol are generally avoided.
Below is a sample DASH diet eating plan…
Breakfast: Whole wheat bagel with no-added-salt peanut butter. Fruit, and a coffee with skimmed milk on the side.Snack one: Low-fat yoghurt with fresh berries.Lunch: Skinless chicken breast sandwich on whole wheat bread with reduced-fat cheese, lettuce, tomato, and low-fat mayonnaise.Snack two: Fruit and a handful of nuts.Dinner: Lemon-herb salmon with boiled new potatoes and fresh steamed vegetables.
The DASH diet is in many ways similar to the Mediterranean diet, but differs in its emphasis of low-fat dairy and complete exclusion of alcohol.
If you’re unsure where to start, why not try one of these DASH diet recipe cookbooks from Amazon for inspiration?