Hay una razón por la que este sencillo plan está calificado como la alimentación No. 1 para la salud del corazón: ¡y es porque funciona! Here's how to get started with DASH.
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Splashy new diets seem to make headlines every few weeks. But there’s one eating plan recommended by health experts time and time again. It’s the DASH Diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
Developed more than 20 years ago with support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), DASH has consistently been named the top “heart-healthy diet” by U.S. News and World Report — among other kudos.
What to Love About DASH
It’s a flexible eating plan that has been shown to help people make simple dietary choices that can lower blood pressure and boost heart health.
High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other serious health conditions. And nearly 75 percent of adults over the age of 60 have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A 2019 review of research on the DASH Diet found that sticking to the plan was associated with:
- 20 percent lower risk of heart disease
- 19 percent lower risk of stroke
- 18 percent lower risk of diabetes
- Significantly lower blood pressure and cholesterol
Ready to give DASH a try? Here's how to build your meals and snacks using the plan. (Daily goals are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.)
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Start with Fruits and Vegetables
They’re packed with fiber and heart-healthy minerals like potassium and magnesium that lower blood pressure by lessening the effects of sodium and easing tension in blood vessel walls.
Your move: Make a point of including at least one in every meal and snack.
Daily goal: Four to five servings of each.
Choose a Variety of Whole Grains
Versatile whole grains are major sources of much-needed fiber. Grains also help keep your energy levels up - in part because they're filling.
Your move: Try whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and quinoa.
Daily goal: Six to eight servings.
Eat (or Drink) Dairy
Milk, yogurt, and cheese are among the best sources of calcium, which helps the body manage blood pressure. They're also an excellent source of protein.
Your move: Drink 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free milk with meals. Snack on unsweetened yogurt (flavor it with fruit) or 1½ ounces of low-fat or fat-free cheese.
Daily goal: Two to three servings.
Fill Up with Small Amounts of Lean Protein
Fish, poultry, lean meats, and eggs are high in magnesium and protein, which have been shown to help lower systolic blood pressure.
Your move: Pay attention to your portion sizes: One egg or 1-ounce cooked lean meat counts as one serving on DASH. (One ounce isn’t a lot — it might help to visualize 3 dice to gauge your portion.)
Daily goal: Six servings or less.
Tip for vegetarians: Meet your protein needs with foods like edamame, tofu, tempeh, and chickpeas. Read up on the Top 5 Plant-Based Sources of Protein for Older Adults here.
Get Modest Amounts of Healthy Fats
Your move: About 27 percent of your calories can come from fats (including what’s added to food or used for cooking). That’s about two to three servings of things like cooking oil, mayonnaise, and salad dressing.
Daily goal: Two to three servings.
Weekly goal: Aim for four to five servings a week of nuts, seeds, and legumes. Here’s what one serving looks like for these:
- ½ cup cooked beans or peas
- 1/3 cup nuts
- 2 tablespoons seeds or nut butters
Limit Salt and Sweets
The DASH Diet allows for 2,300 mg of sodium a day — that’s equal to 1 teaspoon of salt. But to lower your blood pressure even further, a 1,500 mg limit is the target, according to the American Heart Association.
As for sweets, you can have them, but choose desserts with little or no added sugar.
Your move: The more you cook, the more you’re able to control the amount of sodium and added sugar in your foods. Here are 6 Easy Ways to Add Flavor Without Adding Salt. And here you can find 6 Simple Ways to Eat Less Sugar—Without Giving Up Dessert.
Weekly goal: Five servings or less.
Today’s Sample DASH Menu
Breakfast: Bowl of bran flakes or shredded wheat cereal topped with sliced fruit and low-fat or non-fat milk. Small glass of 100-percent orange juice.
Lunch: Chicken salad sandwich made with two slices whole wheat bread. Serve with a cucumber-and-tomato salad and dish of low-fat cottage cheese topped with fruit.
Dinner: 3-ounce baked cod served with brown rice, sautéed spinach, and a small cornbread muffin.
Snacks: Plain yogurt topped with fresh or dried fruit and unsalted sunflower seeds. Two graham crackers topped with nut butter.
See our sources:
DASH Diet is No. 1 in Best Heart-Healthy Diets, 2023: U.S. News and World Report
DASH diet overview: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Review of research on the DASH diet: Nutrients (2019)
Daily sodium recommendations: American Heart Association
A week with the DASH eating plan: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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