Maintaining healthy eating habits can seem especially challenging during the holidays, but it can be easy to stay on track with the DASH Diet on Thanksgiving. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and it’s a lifelong approach to healthy eating designed to help treat or prevent hypertension (high blood pressure) or prehypertension.
In addition to being a low-salt (or low-sodium) plan, the DASH diet provides additional benefits to reduce blood pressure. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy, with whole grains. It is a high-fiber, low-to-moderate fat diet, rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Starting on November 30, 2013 for a period of three years, a 90-minute show on the DASH diet will be presented on PBS stations around the country. The DASH diet eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The DASH diet emphasizes portion size, eating a variety of foods and getting the right amount of nutrients.
DASH is endorsed by the following organizations:
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (one of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
- American Heart Association (AHA)
- 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- U.S. Guidelines for Treatment of High Blood Pressure
- 2011 AHA Treatment Guidelines for Women
- Mayo Clinic
The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy foods and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. In addition to the standard DASH diet, there is also a lower-sodium version of the diet. You and your doctor can choose the version of the diet that best meets your health needs:
- Standard DASH diet. You can consume up to 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day.
- Lower sodium DASH diet. You can consume up to 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
Both versions of the DASH diet aim to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet compared with what you might get in a more traditional diet, which can amount to 3,500 mg of sodium per day or more.
For more information on lowering you blood pressure with DASH, visit: