Weight Loss

The Dash Diet Guidelines: Easy 7 Day Sample Menu Included

The number of people with high blood pressure has doubled in the last 40 years — a serious health concern, as high blood pressure is linked to a higher risk of conditions such as heart disease, kidney failure and stroke.

As diet is thought to play a major role in the development of high blood pressure, scientists and policymakers have engineered specific dietary strategies to help reduce it.

This article examines the DASH diet, which was designed to combat high blood pressure and reduce people’s risk of heart disease.

What Is the DASH Diet?

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, is a diet recommended for people who want to prevent or treat hypertension — also known as high blood pressure — and reduce their risk of heart disease.

The DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.

The diet was created after researchers noticed that high blood pressure was much less common in people who followed a plant-based diet, such as vegans and vegetarians.

The diet is low in red meat, salt, added sugars and fat.

Scientists believe that one of the main reasons people with high blood pressure can benefit from this diet is because it reduces salt intake.

The regular DASH diet program encourages no more than 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg) of sodium per day, which is in line with most national guidelines.

The lower-salt version recommends no more than 3/4 teaspoon (1,500 mg) of sodium per day.

Summary: The DASH diet was designed to reduce high blood pressure. While rich in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, it restricts red meat, salt, added sugars and fat.

What to Eat on the Dash Diet

The DASH diet doesn’t list specific foods to eat.

Instead, it recommends specific servings of different food groups.

The number of servings you can eat depends on how many calories you consume. Below is an example of food portions based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Whole Grains: 6–8 Servings per Day

Examples of whole grains include whole-wheat or whole-grain breads, whole-grain breakfast cereals, brown rice, bulgur, quinoa and oatmeal.

Examples of a serving include:

  • 1 slice of whole-grain bread
  • 1 ounce (28 grams) of dry, whole-grain cereal
  • 1/2 cup (95 grams) of cooked rice, pasta or cereal

Vegetables: 4–5 Servings per Day

All vegetables are allowed on the DASH diet.

Examples of a serving include:

  • 1 cup (about 30 grams) of raw, leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale
  • 1/2 cup (about 45 grams) of sliced vegetables — raw or cooked — like broccoli, carrots, squash or tomatoes

Fruits: 4–5 Servings per Day

If you’re following the DASH approach, you’ll be eating a lot of fruit. Examples of fruits you can eat include apples, pears, peaches, berries and tropical fruits like pineapple and mango.

Examples of a serving include:

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) of dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) of fresh, frozen or canned peaches

Dairy Products: 2–3 Servings per Day

Dairy products on the DASH diet should be low in fat. Examples include skim milk and low-fat cheese and yogurt.

Examples of a serving include:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) of low-fat milk
  • 1 cup (285 grams) of low-fat yogurt
  • 1.5 ounces (45 grams) of low-fat cheese

Lean Chicken, Meat and Fish: 6 or Fewer Servings per Day

Choose lean cuts of meat and try to eat a serving of red meat only occasionally — no more than once or twice a week.

Examples of a serving include:

  • 1 ounce (28 grams) of cooked meat, chicken or fish
  • 1 egg

Nuts, Seeds and Legumes: 4–5 Servings per Week

These include almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, kidney beans, lentils and split peas.

Examples of a serving include:

  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) of nuts
  • 2 tablespoons (40 grams) of nut butter
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) of seeds
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) of cooked legumes

Fats and Oils: 2–3 Servings per Day

The DASH diet recommends vegetable oils over other oils. These include margarines and oils like canola, corn, olive or safflower. It also recommends low-fat mayonnaise and light salad dressing.

Examples of a serving include:

1 teaspoon (4.5 grams) of soft margarine
1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 grams) of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons (30 ml) of salad dressing

Candy and Added Sugars: 5 or Fewer Servings per Week

Added sugars are kept to a minimum on the DASH diet, so limit your intake of candy, soda and table sugar. The DASH diet also restricts unrefined sugars and alternative sugar sources, like agave nectar.

Examples of a serving include:

  • 1 tablespoon (12.5 grams) of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (20 grams) of jelly or jam
  • 1 cup (240 ml) of lemonade

Summary
The DASH diet does not list specific foods to eat. Instead, it’s a dietary pattern focused on servings of food groups.

Sample Menu for One Week

Here’s an example of a one-week meal plan — based on 2,000 calories per day — for the regular DASH diet:

Monday

  • Breakfast: 1 cup (90 grams) of oatmeal with 1 cup (240 ml) of skim milk, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of blueberries and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of fresh orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium apple and 1 cup (285 grams) of low-fat yogurt.
  • Lunch: Tuna and mayonnaise sandwich made with 2 slices of whole-grain bread, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of mayonnaise, 1.5 cups (113 grams) of green salad and 3 ounces (80 grams) of canned tuna.
  • Snack: 1 medium banana.
  • Dinner: 3 ounces (85 grams) of lean chicken breast cooked in 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vegetable oil with 1/2 cup (75 grams) each of broccoli and carrots. Served with 1 cup (190 grams) of brown rice.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: 2 slices of whole-wheat toast with 1 teaspoon (4.5 grams) of margarine, 1 tablespoon (20 grams) of jelly or jam, 1/2 cup (120 ml) of fresh orange juice and 1 medium apple.
  • Snack: 1 medium banana.
  • Lunch: 3 ounces (85 grams) of lean chicken breast with 2 cups (150 grams) of green salad, 1.5 ounces (45 grams) of low-fat cheese and 1 cup (190 grams) of brown rice.
  • Snack: 1/2 cup (30 grams) of canned peaches and 1 cup (285 grams) of low-fat yogurt.
  • Dinner: 3 ounces (85 grams) of salmon cooked in 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vegetable oil with 1 cup (300 grams) of boiled potatoes and 1.5 cups (225 grams) of boiled vegetables.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: 1 cup (90 grams) of oatmeal with 1 cup (240 ml) of skim milk and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of blueberries. 1/2 cup (120 ml) of fresh orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium orange.
  • Lunch: 2 slices of whole-wheat bread, 3 ounces (85 grams) of lean turkey, 1.5 ounces (45 grams) of low-fat cheese, 1/2 cup (38 grams) of green salad and 1/2 cup (38 grams) of cherry tomatoes.
  • Snack: 4 whole-grain crackers with 1.5 ounces (45 grams) of cottage cheese and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of canned pineapple.
  • Dinner: 6 ounces (170 grams) of cod fillet, 1 cup (200 grams) of mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of green peas and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of broccoli.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: 1 cup (90 grams) of oatmeal with 1 cup (240 ml) of skim milk and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of raspberries. 1/2 cup (120 ml) of fresh orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium banana.
  • Lunch: Salad made with 4.5 ounces (130 grams) of grilled tuna, 1 boiled egg, 2 cups (152 grams) of green salad, 1/2 cup (38 grams) of cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of low-fat dressing.
  • Snack: 1/2 cup (30 grams) of canned pears and 1 cup (285 grams) of low-fat yogurt.
  • Dinner: 3 ounces (85 grams) of pork fillet with 1 cup (150 grams) of mixed vegetables and 1 cup (190 grams) of brown rice.

Friday

  • Breakfast: 2 boiled eggs, 2 slices of turkey bacon with 1/2 cup (38 grams) of cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup (80 grams) of baked beans and 2 slices of whole-wheat toast, plus 1/2 cup (120 ml) of fresh orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium apple.
  • Lunch: 2 slices of whole-wheat toast, 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise, 1.5 ounces (45 grams) of low-fat cheese, 1/2 cup (38 grams) of salad greens and 1/2 cup (38 grams) of cherry tomatoes.
  • Snack: 1 cup of fruit salad.
  • Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs made with 1 cup (190 grams) of spaghetti and 4 ounces (115 grams) of minced turkey. 1/2 cup (75 grams) of green peas on the side.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: 2 slices of whole-wheat toast with 2 tablespoons (40 grams) of peanut butter, 1 medium banana, 2 tablespoons (16 grams) of mixed seeds and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of fresh orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium apple.
  • Lunch: 3 ounces (85 grams) of grilled chicken, 1 cup (150 grams) of roasted vegetables and 1 cup (190 grams) couscous.
  • Snack: 1/2 cup (30 grams) of mixed berries and 1 cup (285 grams) of low-fat yogurt.
  • Dinner: 3 ounces (85 grams) of pork steak and 1 cup (150 grams) of ratatouille with 1 cup (190 grams) of brown rice, 1/2 cup (40 grams) of lentils and 1.5 ounces (45 grams) of low-fat cheese.
  • Dessert: Low-fat chocolate pudding.

Sunday

  • Breakfast: 1 cup (90 grams) of oatmeal with 1 cup (240 ml) of skim milk, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of blueberries and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of fresh orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium pear.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad made with 3 ounces (85 grams) of lean chicken breast, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, 2 cups (150 grams) of green salad, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of cherry tomatoes, 1/2 tablespoon (4 grams) of seeds and 4 whole-grain crackers.
  • Snack: 1 banana and 1/2 cup (70 grams) of almonds.
  • Dinner: 3 ounces of roast beef with 1 cup (150 grams) of boiled potatoes, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of broccoli and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of green peas.

Summary

On the DASH diet, you can eat a variety of scrumptious, healthy meals that pack plenty of vegetables alongside various fruits and good protein sources.

 

Source
healthline
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