DASH Plan Addresses High Blood Pressure & Weight Loss

Has your health professional told you that you are overweight and need to lose weight, or that your blood pressure is too high and you need to get it under control?

If so, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension-DASH-eating plan might be just what you need. While the DASH eating plan was originally developed to help those with high blood pressure, the plan design is a hearty recipe that is recommended for most adults. It is not a diabetic eating plan.

The plan is rich in certain minerals, such magnesium, potassium and calcium, along with protein and fiber. It is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat. Food emphasized in the plan include whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.

Most adults can lose weight on 1,600 calories per day. At this calorie level, The DASH plan recommends six servings from grain and grain products per day, three to four servings of vegetables, four servings of fruit, two to three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products, one to two servings of fats and oils. Also, add three servings per week or nuts, seeds, and beans-one-third to one-half cup per serving.

An example of a grain serving is a slice of whole wheat bread or one-half cup of cooked oatmeal or rice, without added salt. A serving of fruits or vegetables is one-half cup of cooked, fresh or frozen. Make sure to read labels and buy canned or frozen vegetables without any added salt.

Examples of low-fat dairy are one cup of fat-free ( 1 percent) milk or yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese. Avoid processed cheeses since they are higher in sodium. Examples of meat servings are three ounces of meat, fish, or poultry. It is best to read labels and buy foods with no or low amounts or added salt.

Bread varies greatly in sodium content. Don’t buy chips, candy, cookies and cakes. If they’re not around, you won’t eat them. A buy-one, get-one is no value if it’s ruining your health. Remember that no plan for good health leaves out exercise. Make sure you engage in fun activity most days of the week.

For more info about the DASH eating plan go to http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf

[ Susan Kistler, MS., RD., LD/N is the nutrition director of the Polk County Health Department.]