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DASH to Health During National Heart Month - Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
Information provided by the American Dietetic Association: Your Link to Nutrition & Health

Genetics, excess weight, physical inactivity and dietary factors all contribute to your increased risk for high blood pressure, or hypertension. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke - affecting more than 65 million Americans ages six and over. During National Heart Month, consider adopting a new healthful eating plan to lower your risk.

Well-established changes to your eating plan that lower blood pressure are reducing salt intake, losing weight and only drinking alcohol in moderation. The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, established by the National Institutes of Health, has been shown to help reduce blood pressure in people with normal and elevated levels, in part by increasing potassium and calcium levels and lowering sodium. The DASH diet is an eating plan that adds foods to your diet rather than taking them away. It is rich in low-fat dairy foods, fruits and vegetables - all of which are recipes for lowering blood pressure.

The DASH plan calls for eating eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of dairy foods, limited animal fat intake and increased intake of plant proteins every day. And while it was designed for people with hypertension, DASH is an eating plan the whole family can enjoy.

To incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily eating plan, add fruits like strawberries to cereal and mandarin oranges to salad, enjoy fruit as a sweet snack or use fresh or frozen berries to top angel food cake or frozen yogurt. Include a variety of vegetables in your salads or add them to pasta and rice dishes. And as always, they are a perfect side dish for meat, fish and poultry.

In addition to eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, the DASH diet advises you to consume low-fat and fat-free dairy foods and lean meat, poultry and fish.

Consider following the DASH eating plan whether or not you have high blood pressure. Lower in fat and abundant in phytonutrients, the DASH plan also may protect against some cancers and other health issues. Consult a registered dietitian to help you fit DASH into your eating plan.

For more information on the DASH diet, consult a registered dietitian. To locate an RD in your area, see the Find a Nutrition Professional page.


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