Superfoods & Nutrition

U.S. News Best Diet Review: DASH

Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 9.49.52 PMThe aim:

Preventing and lowering high blood pressure (hypertension).

The claim:

A healthy eating pattern is key to deflating high blood pressure—and it may not hurt your waistline, either.

The theory:

Nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein, and fiber are crucial to fending off or fighting high blood pressure. You don’t have to track each one, though. Just emphasize the foods you’ve always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy), while shunning those we’ve grown to love (calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat). Top it all off by cutting back on salt, and voilà!

How does the DASH Diet work?

For a 2,000-calorie diet, you should shoot each day (unless otherwise noted) for 6-8 servings of grains; 4-5 each of veggies and fruit; 2-3 of fat-free or low-fat dairy; 6 or fewer of lean meat, poultry, and fish, with one serving being equivalent to an ounce; 4-5 (a week) of nuts, seeds, and legumes; 2-3 of fats and oils; and 5 or fewer (a week) of sweets. DASH suggests capping sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day and eventually working to stay under 1,500 mg.

It’s OK to ease into DASH. Try adding just one vegetable serving to a meal, and a fruit serving to another. Go (sort of) vegetarian by preparing two or more meat-free dishes each week. And start using the herbs and spices hiding in the back of the pantry—they’ll make you forget the salt’s not on the table. Meanwhile, you’ll be encouraged to stick to a regular physical-activity program.

As for weight loss, you’re advised to ask your doctor about how to best tailor your plan. Because DASH emphasizes so many healthful foods, it can easily support weight loss. Just move more and eat slightly less, says the NHLBI.

Sample Menu

Here’s a day of typical meals on a 2,000-calorie DASH diet at a 2,300 mg. sodium level. Substitutions for a 1,500 mg. sodium level are in parentheses.


  • ¾ cup bran flakes cereal (¾ cup shredded wheat cereal) with 1 medium banana and 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread with 1 tsp. (unsalted) margarine
  • 1 cup orange juice



  • 2 slices whole-wheat bread
  • ¾ cup (unsalted) chicken salad
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon (regular) mustard


  • ½ cup fresh cucumber slices
  • ½ cup tomato wedges
  • 1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp. low-calorie Italian dressing
  • ½ cup fruit cocktail


  • 3 oz. beef, eye of the round, with 2 tbsp. fat-free beef gravy
  • 1 cup green beans, sautéed with ½ tsp. canola oil
  • 1 small baked potato topped with 1 tbsp. fat-free sour cream, 1 tbsp. grated, reduced-fat natural (low-sodium) cheddar cheese and 1 tbsp. chopped scallions
  • 1 small whole-wheat roll with 1 tsp. (unsalted) soft margarine
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 cup low-fat milk


  • 1/3 cup almonds, unsalted
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ cup fat-free, no-sugar-added fruit yogurt

Source: US News: Health.  Best Diets.

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