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You'll eat four to five servings of vegetables on a typical DASH daily meal plan.
Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images
The DASH diet was named the best overall diet by U.S. News & World Report in early 2013. Developed by the National Institutes of Health, the DASH diet is short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It was designed to help prevent and manage high blood pressure, but it may also help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Daily Intake Recommendations
For a person consuming 2,000 calories per day, a typical DASH daily meal plan would include up to 6 ounces of lean protein, six to eight servings of grains, four to five servings of vegetables and four to five servings of fruit. Two to three servings of dairy products, two to three servings of healthy fats and enough beans, nuts and seeds to equal a weekly average of four to five servings are also recommended on the DASH diet.
According to MayoClinic.com, breakfast on the DASH diet might include a grain like bread or a bagel, a serving of nut butter like peanut butter, a medium-sized piece of fresh fruit and a 1-cup serving of milk. The grains consumed on the DASH plan should be whole grains, such as whole-wheat toast. Any commercial products like peanut butter should be sodium-free, since the DASH diet limits your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. All dairy products should be low- or nonfat.
A typical DASH lunch could include at least one serving of lean protein, two servings of grains, one dairy serving and several servings each of fruits and vegetables. Columbia University Medical Center suggests cooked chicken mixed with diced apple, curry powder and fat-free mayonnaise served in a whole-wheat tortilla, along with whole-grain crackers, raw vegetables and a piece of fresh fruit. For your protein sources on the DASH diet, choose skinless poultry, lean cuts of beef or seafood, and season them with sodium-free spices or herbs.
Dieters on the DASH plan might have one serving of cooked whole-wheat pasta topped with 1 cup of sodium-free marinara sauce, paired with a large vegetable-rich salad, whole-wheat bread and fresh fruit for dinner. DASH followers are encouraged to use low-fat dressings on their salads, or to prepare their own sodium-free vinaigrette from extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar with seasonings like garlic and pepper. A bread spread like trans fat-free margarine is also allowed, and counts towards your daily fat servings. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's sample DASH menus indicate that a typical DASH dinner does not need to include seafood, meat or poultry.
DASH dieters are allowed to have one snack per day, eaten at any time they need a boost of energy, such as mid-morning or late afternoon. Snacks on the DASH plan should be used to help you fulfill your daily nutrition requirements and should conform to the same guidelines that govern meal choices. Steer clear of pre-packaged snack foods that are high in sodium, fat and sugar in favor of snacks like a cup of low- or nonfat yogurt with a piece of fresh fruit, or unsalted nuts paired with low-sodium whole-wheat crackers and dried fruit like apricots.