The DASH Diet

With so many diet plans on the market nowadays, choosing the right one can easily become overwhelming. How can the average consumer pick one which is safe, healthy and effective at reducing risks for chronic health problems?

Today’s leading health organizations are heartily endorsing the DASH Diet for the informed health-conscious diner. The DASH Diet has been recommended by the National Kidney Foundation and approved by The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, The American Heart Association, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and also forms the basis for the USDA MyPyramid.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet was developed based on a series of research studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The studies showed that the DASH diet plan helped decrease blood pressure, lower the risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer, and even reduce the risk of kidney stone formation.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains that “The DASH eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It also contains less salt and sodium; sweets, added sugars, and sugar–containing beverages; fats, and red meats, than the typical American diet. This heart-healthy approach to eating minimizes saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and stresses nutrients which are associated with lowering blood pressure—mainly potassium, magnesium, and calcium, protein, and fiber.”

Heart disease and kidney disease are linked, so having one predisposes you to the other. High blood pressure is common to both heart disease and kidney disease and the most common cause of death in kidney patients is heart disease. Therefore, adopting the DASH diet is a recognized treatment of hypertension, heart disease, and kidney disease. The DASH diet can slow the progression of both heart disease and kidney disease. All patients with chronic kidney disease should be on a diet which includes less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day as recommended in the DASH diet. In addition, if you have kidney disease, you may need to modify the amount of potassium and phosphorus in the diet. This should be discussed with your physician or your dietician.

Here’s the detailed DASH diet for a 2,000 calorie diet:

Food Group Daily Servings Serving Size
Grains1 6–8 1 Slice bread
1 oz dry cereal2
½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
Vegetables 4–5

1 cup raw leafy vegetable
½ cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetable
½ cup vegetable juice

Fruits 4–5

1 medium fruit
¼ cup dried fruit
½ cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
½ cup fruit juice

Fat–free or low–fat milk and milk products 2–3

1 oz milk or yogurt
1 ½ oz cheese

Lean meats, poultry, and fish 6 or less

1 oz cooked meats, poultry, or fish
1 egg

Nuts, seeds, and legumes 4–5 per week

1/3 cup or 1 ½ oz nuts
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp or ½ oz seeds
½ cup cooked legumes (dry beans and peas)

Fats and oils 2–3

1 tsp soft margarine
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp salad dressing

Sweets and added sugars 5 or less per week

1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp jelly or jam
½ cup sorbet, gelatin
1 cup lemonade

1. Whole grains are recommended for most grain servings as a good source of fiber and nutrients.
2. Serving sizes vary between ½ cup and 1 ¼ cups, depending on cereal type. Check the product's Nutrition Facts label.

Information on the DASH diet (PDF) 978KB

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