Does The DASH Diet Deliver?Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The DASH Diet, the #1 ranked diet plan by U.S. News for the fifth year in a row, stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. After much research, this diet was created by medical professionals to help control high blood pressure. It has been shown to help reduce high blood pressure just as well as medications and is typically prescribed to people with high blood pressure as a first means of action. The DASH Diet has also been shown to help reduce cholesterol and the risk of diabetes. Now it is being used to help people eat healthier and lose weight, all without restriction of food groups or major changes to the diet.
What Can You Eat?
On the DASH Diet, an emphasis is placed on including low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits, vegetable, fish, poultry, and nuts. These foods provide good-for-you nutrients, like fiber and potassium, to help maintain a healthy, functioning body.
The trick to the DASH Diet is to stay within the allotted number of servings from each food group. This will help take in a variety of foods and keep calories in check. Here are the recommended servings for each food group on The DASH Diet.
- Grains: 7-8 servings per day
- Fruits: 4-5 servings per day
- Vegetables: 4-5 servings per day
- Low-fat/fat free dairy products: 2-3 servings per day
- Lean meat, poultry or fish: 2 servings per day
- Nuts, seeds and dry beans: 4-5 servings per week
- Fats and oils: 2-3 servings per day
- Sweets: 5 servings per week
Prioritizing these food groups helps to limit high fat meats, sweets, sugary drinks and high sodium foods. Sodium is limited to less than 2,300 milligrams per day, which is much easier when sticking to the servings above.
DASH for Weight Loss
The DASH Diet weight loss plan follows the same food recommendations as the DASH Diet blood pressure lowering plan, but some differences include cutting back on calories and reducing portion sizes.
For those just starting on The DASH Diet to lose weight, simple swaps can help cut calories. For example, instead of snacking on salty pretzels or chips, choose a handful of blueberries and low-fat yogurt instead. Making fruits a dessert will also help to cut back calories and help you take in another serving of fruit.
These steps are simple, but it requires you to be your own coach. The DASH Diet suggests keeping a food diary to keep track of how many servings and which foods have been consumed each day.
To get a better idea of the DASH Diet’s food recommendations, Marla Heller, MS, RD, author of The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solutions, The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook and The DASH Diet Younger You shared one of her recipes.
Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe and photo courtesy of Marla Heller, MS, RD from The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook.
Makes 8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juice, undrained
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
To make the tortilla strips: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Spread the tortilla strips on the baking sheet and spray with oil. Bake, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
To make the soup: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the onion, red pepper, zucchini, garlic, and jalapeño and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the broth, scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Stir in the water and tomatoes with their juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the chicken is opaque in the center when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 35 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, stir in the corn and 2 tablespoons of cilantro.
Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with about 1 tablespoon of tortilla chips and additional cilantro. Serve hot with the lime wedges for squeezing into the soup as desired.
(1 serving, 1¼ cups) 194 calories, 19 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 3 g fiber, 66 mg cholesterol, 387 mg sodium, 297 g potassium. Food groups: 1 whole grain, 3 ounces meat, ½ vegetable.
Should You Try It?
The DASH Diet makes life easy because it is a doable plan that doesn’t cut out any food groups. This relieves you from the stress of worrying that you are getting all your necessary nutrients. Regardless of weight loss or blood pressure lowering motives, incorporating The DASH Diet recommended foods and lowering sodium is definitely a healthy way to eat.
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