Did you know that March is Nutrition Month? Nutrition Month focuses on helping people to make correct food choices as well as developing good eating and exercising habits. In this blog we will focus a specific heart healthy diet known as the DASH diet.
The DASH Diet ranked best diet for the 7th year in a row by US News & World Report. Not only is it healthy for your heart but it is great for both preventing and managing diabetes. This diet can also be used effectively for weight loss and lowering cholesterol.
The main focus of the DASH diet is to consume meals full of fruits, vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy. Whole grains, lean meats, fish, and poultry are emphasized and a lesser emphasis is placed on your red meats. This diet also focuses on sodium content of food as a diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure.
When it comes to meal planning, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Unlike other diets out there, the DASH diet can actually be made enjoyable! Your entire family can enjoy the DASH diet as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the DASH diet eating plan as a model for healthy eating for everyone.
Below you can find the main components of the DASH diet broken down. For complete recipes you can visit the link at the bottom of the page.
- Sodium intake with a goal of 1500 mg and not to exceed 2300 mg
- Fiber intake of at least 30 g
- 6-8 servings of grains emphasizing whole grains
- 4-5 servings of both vegetables and fruits
- 2-3 milk products
- 6 or less sources of lean protein
- 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds and legumes per week
- 2-3 servings of fats or oils
- 5 servings or less of sweets or added sugars per week
- 30 minutes of physical activity each day, or 60 minutes to prevent weight gain
Understanding the food label
In order to follow the DASH diet it is important to know what you are eating. Keeping an eye out on the Serving Size is important. At times, the portion size you are eating is larger than the recommended Serving Size. For example, if a serving size is listed as ½ a cup and you are consuming a full cup, you would be getting twice the amount of calories/nutrients listen on the Nutrition Label. Taking a look at the total calorie count is a great general reference; however, the % Daily Value helps focus on the values of each nutrient and helps us control appropriate amounts. The % Daily Value is the percentage of nutrients in one serving of food that should be consumed on a daily basis. These percentages are determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and generally apply to a 2000 calorie per day diet.
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