Take Charge with the DASH Diet
Develop a plan to a healthier heart
About one in three Veterans are believed to have high blood pressure. Are you one of them?
One common reason for high blood pressure, or hypertension, is diet. Eating foods high in salt or fat can lead to big health problems. High blood pressure can cause heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. But simple changes to what you eat can help.
What is the DASH eating plan?
DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” This eating plan can help lower blood pressure. Following the DASH eating plan doesn’t require special foods. Instead, DASH focuses on daily and weekly nutrition goals. Here are some key recommendations:
Eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains
Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils, such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets
Benefits of the DASH eating plan
When following the DASH eating plan, positive health changes are sometimes seen in a few weeks. The DASH eating plan helps control high blood pressure with heart-healthy food choices. It also reduces your risk for other problems including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
DASH meals with flavor
Part of the DASH eating plan is reducing the amount of salt and fat in your diet. When you prepare meals, check food labels for the sodium amount. Most dietary sodium comes from eating packaged foods, not from the salt that you add at the dinner table. Look at the label. You should be consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. Foods labeled as “low sodium” have less than 140 mg sodium per serving. Try these tips to add more flavor:
Read the nutrition fact label
Buy fresh seafood and poultry rather than processed
Enjoy fresh or frozen vegetables and try ones you haven't used before
Un-salt your snacks by choosing no-salt-added nuts and seeds
Marinate your poultry, fish, and other meats before cooking
These ideas can help you make healthy eating choices. You should talk to a doctor before making big changes to what you eat. Your doctor can help you find out your blood pressure goal. If you check your blood pressure at home, record your numbers in your My HealtheVet profile’s Vitals section to show your progress.
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