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Eating for your heart doesn’t have to be hard or boring. You just need to know how to make healthier choices. The DASH eating plan has been developed to help you do just that. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a plan that has been proven to be healthier for your heart and to lower your risk for high blood pressure. It can also help lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
Choose foods from each of the food groups below each day. Try to get the recommended number of servings for each food group. The serving numbers are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure about your calorie needs. Along with getting the correct servings, the DASH plan also recommends a sodium intake less than 2,300 mg per day.
Servings: 6 to 8 a day
A serving is:
1 slice bread
1 ounce dry cereal
Half a cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal
Best choices: Whole grains and any grains high in fiber.
Servings: 4 to 5 a day
1 cup raw leafy vegetable
Half a cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetable
Half a cup vegetable juice
Best choices: Fresh or frozen vegetables prepared without added salt or fat.
1 medium fruit
One-quarter cup dried fruit
Half a cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
Half a cup of 100% fruit juices
Best choices: A variety of fresh fruits of different colors. Whole fruits are a better choice than fruit juices.
Servings: 2 to 3 a day
1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt
One and a half ounces cheese
Best choices: Skim or 1% milk, low-fat or fat-free yogurt or buttermilk, and low-fat cheeses.
Servings: 6 or fewer a day
1 ounce cooked meats, poultry, or fish
Best choices: Lean poultry and fish. Trim away visible fat. Broil, grill, roast, or boil instead of frying. Remove skin from poultry before eating. Limit how much red meat you eat.
Servings: 4 to 5 a week
One-third cup nuts (one and a half ounces)
2 tablespoons nut butter or seeds
Half a cup cooked dry beans or legumes
Best choices: Dry roasted nuts with no salt added, lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and whole pinto beans.
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon soft margarine
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons salad dressing
Best choices: Nut and vegetable oils (nontropical vegetable oils), such as olive and canola oil.
Servings: 5 a week or fewer
1 tablespoon sugar, maple syrup, or honey
1 tablespoon jam or jelly
1 half-ounce jelly beans (about 15)
1 cup lemonade
Best choices: Dried fruit can be a satisfying sweet. Choose low-fat sweets. And watch your serving sizes!
For more on the DASH eating plan, visit:
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