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The D.A.S.H. Diet

Stroke is the third leading cause of death among adults in Utah, with almost 900 people dying each year from stroke.

The most important controllable risk factors for stroke is blood pressure. The DASH diet is used to decrease the risk of elevated blood pressure with a low fat eating plan that is rich in low fat dairy foods, fruits, and vegetables.

The DASH diet is used to decrease the risk of elevated blood pressure with a low fat eating plan that is rich in low fat dairy foods, fruits, and vegetables.

Recommendations for the DASH diet include 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables and 2-3 servings of milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese. Some tips for including more fruits and vegetables and milk are:

  • Include 1 or 2 different fruits or vegetables at each meal and for snacks.
  • Drink low fat milk with meals instead of soda, alcohol, or sugar sweetened drinks.
  • Feed your craving for sweets with fresh or dried fruits, low fat chocolate milk, or fruit-filled gelatin.
  • Current recommendations are to limit sodium levels to at least 2,400 mg. The ideal would be 1,500 mg of sodium. The average intake in the United States is around 4,000 mg of sodium per day.

About 26% of Americans with normal blood pressure and about 58% of Americans with hypertension are salt sensitive. Because there is no easy way to test for salt sensitivity, it is recommended that all Americans with normal blood pressure or elevated blood pressure have no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day.

It is recommended to prepare foods with little or no salt. Some tips for doing this are:

  • Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat rather than canned, smoked, or processed types.
  • Use reduced sodium or no salt added products.
  • Buy fresh, plain frozen, or canned with "no-salt added" vegetables.
  • Rinse canned foods, to remove some sodium.
  • Use spices instead of salt.
  • Remove the salt from the table.
  • Choose "convenience" foods that are lower in sodium. Cut back on canned soups or broth and packaged foods-they often have a lot of sodium.

Some tips to make the DASH diet easier overall would be to:

  • Enjoy eating!
  • Eat sitting down with others at a table.
  • Try a new vegetable or fruit every week.
  • Exercise 30 minutes every day.
  • Treat meat as one part of the whole meal, instead of the focus.
  • Try low fat chocolate milk for a change of pace; it has all the nutrients of white milk and tastes great too.
  • For snacks, choose in season, fresh whole fruits and vegetables first. Dried fruit, roasted nuts, low fat and fat free yogurt, unsalted pretzels, and air-popped popcorn are good choices too.

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