The DASH diet is an eating plan designed to lower blood pressure— it’s an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is endorsed by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as well as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Mayo Clinic to reduce hypertension and lower the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other conditions.
This long-term diet focuses on limiting sodium intake, portion control, and eating a variety of plant-based foods to get the proper nutrition. People who follow the DASH diet also find that they lose weight, lower their cholesterol levels, and reduce their risk of developing diabetes.
1. Sodium intake
The average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium a day or more. That’s a lot of sodium— no wonder over a third of American adults have hypertension. The standard DASH diet recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day— or one teaspoon of salt. The lower sodium DASH diet and the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day for all adults.
If you cut out processed foods and snacks, you’re already ahead of the game. Those foods contain exorbitant amounts of sodium that you can do without. Don’t add salt when cooking soups, rice, pasta, or hot cereals. When you sit down to eat, limit adding salt to your food to one or two shakes.