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Published on May 27, 2020

DASH Diet for Hypertension

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Daily Nutrient Goals Used in the DASH Studies

  • Total Fat - 27% of calories
  • Sodium 2,300 mg (1500 mg will lower bp even more)
  • Saturated fat 6% of calories
  • Potassium 4,700 mg Protein 18% of calories
  • Calcium 1,250 mg
  • Carbohydrate 55% of calories
  • Magnesium 500 mg
  • Cholesterol 150 mg
  • Fiber 30 g

How to Adopt the DASH Eating Plan

  • If you now eat one or two vegetables a day, add a serving at lunch and another at dinner.
  • Gradually increase your use of fat-free milk and milk products (such as nonfat yogurt) to three servings a day.
  • Read the Nutrition Facts label on margarines and salad dressings to choose those lowest in saturated fat and trans fat.
  • Limit lean meats to 6 ounces a day—all that's needed. Have only 3 ounces at a meal, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • If you now eat large portions of meats, cut them back gradually—by a half or a third at each meal.
  • Include two or more vegetarian-style (meatless) meals each week.
  • Increase servings of vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and cooked dry beans in meals.
  • Try these snacks ideas: unsalted rice cakes; nuts mixed with raisins; graham crackers; fat-free and low-fat yogurt and frozen yogurt; popcorn with no salt or butter added; raw vegetables.
  • Use fresh, frozen, or low-sodium canned vegetables and fruits.

Tips To Reduce Salt and Sodium

  • Choose low- or reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added versions of foods and condiments when available.
  • Choose fresh, frozen, or canned (low-sodium or no-salt-added) vegetables.
  • Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned, smoked, or processed types.
  • Choose breakfast cereals that are lower in sodium.
  • Limit cured foods (such as bacon and ham); foods packed in brine (such as pickles, pickled vegetables, olives, and sauerkraut); and condiments (such as mustard, horseradish, ketchup, and barbecue sauce). Limit even lower sodium versions of soy sauce and teriyaki sauce. Treat these condiments sparingly as you do table salt.
  • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.
  • Choose “convenience” foods that are lower in sodium. Cut back on frozen dinners, mixed dishes such as pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings—these often have a lot of sodium.
  • Rinse canned foods, such as tuna and canned beans, to remove some of the sodium.
  • Use spices instead of salt. In cooking and at the table, flavor foods with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar, or salt-free seasoning blends. Start by cutting salt in half.

Avoiding Salt When Eating Out

Ask how foods are prepared. Ask that they be prepared without added salt, MSG, or salt-containing ingredients. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate requests.

  • Know the terms that indicate high sodium content: pickled, cured, smoked, soy sauce, broth.
  • Move the salt shaker away.
  • Limit condiments, such as mustard, ketchup, pickles, and sauces with salt-containing ingredients.
  • Choose fruit or vegetables, instead of salty snack foods.

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