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The DASH Diet for High Blood Pressure

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Updated December 02, 2006

Developed by the National Institutes of Health in coordination with researches from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) represents the most effective, most researched guide to dietary changes for high blood pressure.

Building on a solid foundation focused on highlighting good foods, the DASH diet has been proven to help control and lower blood pressure in those who strictly follow its guidelines.

Nutrition Goals

The mainstay of the DASH diet is a well rounded distribution of foods that focus on where your calories actually come from. The breakdown works as follows

Total fat: 27% of calories
Saturated fat: 6% of calories
Protein: 18% of calories
Carbohydrate: 55% of calories
Cholesterol: 150 mg
Sodium: 2,300 mg
Potassium: 4,700 mg
Calcium: 1,250 mg
Magnesium: 500 mg
Fiber: 30 g

Application

These guidelines represent a well balanced intake of fats, carbohydrates, and protein. To express the guidelines another way, consider this summary of daily serving recommendations

  • Grains: 8 Servings
  • Vegetables: 4 Servings
  • Fruits: 5 Servings
  • Dairy Foods: 3 Servings
  • Meats, Poultry, & Fish: 2 Servings
  • Nuts, Legumes, & Seeds: 1 Servings
  • Fats & Oils 2.5: Servings

Important Points

In general remember the following important points when making long term changes to diet habits

  1. Changes should be gradual
  2. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, should be the center of a healthy meal
  3. Work on increasing intake of fruits and vegetables
  4. Minimize the consumption of fats and sodium
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