DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is an eating plan that is based on research studies sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). These studies showed that DASH lowers high blood pressure and improves levels of cholesterol. This reduces your risk of getting heart disease.
The DASH Diet
- Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Includes whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- Limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages, and red meats.
Along with DASH, other lifestyle changes can help lower your blood pressure. They include staying at a healthy weight, exercising, and not smoking.
Fat is a type of nutrient. You need some fat in your diet but not too much. Fats give you energy and help your body absorb vitamins. Dietary fat also plays a major role in your cholesterol levels.
But not all fats are the same. You should try to avoid
- Saturated fats such as butter, solid shortening, and lard
- Trans fats. These are found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). By 2018, most U.S. companies will not be allowed to add PHOs to food.
Try to replace them with oils such as canola, olive, safflower, sesame, or sunflower. Of course, eating too much fat will put on the pounds. Fat has twice as many calories as proteins or carbohydrates.
Fiber is a substance in plants. Dietary fiber is the kind you eat. It’s a type of carbohydrate. You may also see it listed on a food label as soluble fiber or insoluble fiber. Both types have important health benefits.
Good sources of dietary fiber include
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruit and vegetables
Dietary fiber adds bulk to your diet and makes you feel full faster, helping you control your weight. It helps digestion and helps prevent constipation. Most Americans don’t eat enough dietary fiber. But add it to your diet slowly. Increasing dietary fiber too quickly can lead to gas, bloating, and cramps.