No, it's not meant to make you run faster – but it may help your heart. It's the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. It follows the basics of a healthful diet. But, it emphasizes foods that may help lower blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke with results sometimes seen within a few weeks. These foods contain certain minerals – such as potassium, magnesium, calcium – as well as protein and fiber.
Along with other healthful lifestyle changes, the DASH eating plan can help you:
Here's how it works: The DASH plan calls for a certain number of daily servings from a variety of food groups. It also eliminates most fats and oils, sweets, and added sugars. And, it limits sodium to 2,300 milligrams or less a day. Limiting sodium to 1,500 milligrams a day may help reduce blood pressure even more. This is especially important if you have high blood pressure or you're at risk of it.
Check out this chart, which shows how many servings from each food group you should aim to eat every day. And, it gives some real-life examples of serving sizes:
|Food group||Servings*||Example of one serving|
|Grains||Six to eight a day||One slice of bread. 1/2 cup cooked rice.|
|Fruits and vegetables||Four to five of each a day||One cup of raw, leafy vegetables. 1/2 cup of cut-up raw or cooked vegetables. One medium piece of fruit|
|Fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products||Two to three a day||One cup of milk or yogurt|
|Lean meats, poultry and fish||Six or fewer a day||One ounce of cooked meat|
|Fats and oils||Two to three a day||One teaspoon of vegetable oil or soft margarine|
|Nuts, seeds and legumes||Four to five a week||Two tablespoons of peanut butter|
|Sweets and added sugar||Five or fewer a week||One tablespoon of jelly|
* Based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Calorie needs vary depending on gender, age and level of physical activity.
You can get started with DASH by making small, gradual changes. For example:
Want to learn more about putting the DASH plan to work for you? Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can also discuss other healthful lifestyle changes.
A big part of the DASH eating plan is getting less sodium in your diet. These tips may help: