The DASH diet, short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is an easy way to lower blood pressure and reach your health goals! Here’s what you need to know.
Why is managing blood pressure important for those with diabetes?
- According to the CDC, 68.4% of those diagnosed with diabetes also have high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder which can lead to heart disease or stroke.
- Having high blood pressure AND diabetes increases the risk for kidney disease and retinopathy.
Where can I start?
- Eat more vegetables. The DASH diet suggests 4-5 servings a day, but every serving counts! Start small with one serving at lunch and one at dinner.
- Eat more fiber-filled fruit. The same rule applies here, start small by adding a piece of fresh fruit such as an apple to your breakfast with a goal of reaching 4-5 servings each day.
- Healthy Grains. Aim for 6-8 servings each day of whole grains like whole wheat pasta, whole grain cereals and breads, quinoa, popcorn, or oatmeal.
- Cut back on meat. Aim for 6 ounces or less a day of lean meat, poultry, or fish (1 ounce = 1 serving). Make sure to trim away skin and fat and grill or roast instead of fry!
- Calci-YUM! 2-3 servings of low/no-fat dairy, such as milk, yogurt or part skim cheese, are recommended each day to get enough calcium. Added bonus: dairy contains compounds that may protect against some cancers and cardiovascular disease.
- Eat 4-5 servings each week of nuts, seeds, and legumes. The serving sizes for these foods are small because they pack a nutrient-dense punch! 1/2 cup of cooked beans or 1/3 cup of nuts will provide plenty of magnesium, potassium, and protein.
- Limit fat & oil. Aim for 2 to 3 servings a day, but avoid saturated fats found in meat and whole milk products. More than that can greatly increase the risk of heart disease. 1 serving could be 2 tablespoons of salad dressing or 1 tablespoon mayo.
- Tame your sweet tooth. The DASH diet is about creating sustainable healthy eating habits and therefore encourages small servings of the things you love. When it comes to sweets, aim for 5 or less servings each week. 1 ½ graham cracker or 6 vanilla wafers are easy examples of 1 sweet serving.
One of the major goals of the DASH diet is to reduce the amount of sodium you eat. In addition to the steps above, try these sodium-reducing tricks.
- Use sodium-free spices
- Don’t add salt to your plate
- Rinse canned foods to remove excess sodium
- Buy foods labeled ‘no salt added’ ‘low sodium’ or ‘very low sodium’
Want to learn more? Check out this DASH Eating Plan. Tell us which step you’ll try first in the comments below!