The DASH diet is a diet designed to lower high blood pressure and provide a heart-healthy way of eating. In fact, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Hypertension is a condition that affects over a billion people in the world. It’s a serious problem because it contributes to conditions like heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. If your parent has high blood pressure, the DASH diet may be an excellent way to help manage the condition.
What Does the DASH Diet Do?
Following the DASH diet is meant to reduce the amount of sodium a person consumes and make sure they get enough magnesium, potassium and calcium. All these nutrients are proven to assist in reducing blood pressure levels.
The DASH diet is one that emphasizes eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. The idea for the diet came about after researchers noticed that people who follow vegetarian and vegan diets have a lower instance of hypertension.
The other key health benefit of the DASH diet is its low sodium content. People who follow the DASH diet are encouraged to eat no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. That’s about a teaspoon of table salt.
What Do People on the DASH Diet Eat?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the general guidelines for the DASH diet say to eat the following number of servings of each kind of food:
- Grains: 6-8
- Meats, Poultry, & Fish: 6 or less
- Vegetables: 4-5
- Fruit: 4-5
- Low-Fat & Fat-Free Dairy: 2-3
- Fats & Oils: 2-3
- Sodium: 2,300 mg or less
On a weekly basis, the diet includes these servings:
- Nuts, Seeds, Dry Beans, & Peas: 4-5
- Sweets: 5 or Less
A Day on the DASH Diet
Sometimes it’s helpful to get a glimpse at what people eat in a particular eating plan before trying it. Below is a sample day of the DASH diet provided by the Mayo Clinic:
- 1 store-bought (commercial) whole-wheat bagel with 2 tablespoons peanut butter (no salt added)
- 1 medium orange
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- Decaffeinated coffee
- Spinach salad made with:
- 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves
- 1 sliced pear
- 1/2 cup canned mandarin orange sections
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette
- 12 reduced-sodium wheat crackers
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- Herb-crusted baked cod, 3 ounces cooked (about 4 ounces raw)
- 1/2 cup brown rice pilaf with vegetables
- 1/2 cup fresh green beans, steamed
- 1 small sourdough roll
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup fresh berries with chopped mint
- Herbal iced tea
- 1 cup fat-free, low-calorie yogurt
- 4 vanilla wafers
If your parent is interested in trying the DASH diet to help control high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, senior care can help. Senior care providers can assist in planning meals that meat the DASH diet’s recommendations. They can also drive your parent to the grocery store and help them with shopping for the necessary ingredients. Senior care providers can even cook meals and prepare snacks for your parent.