DASH Up Your Diet

by Sharon Maynard RD LD

High Blood Pressure is something everyone one needs to worry about even — if you’re a registered dietitian like me!

I try to follow the health recommendations that are encouraged by the American Heart Association to keep my blood pressure with in normal ranges

These recommendations include no smoking, little to no alcohol, being active for at least 30 minutes each day, limit salt intake and follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan.

The DASH eating plan includes 2 to 3 daily servings of dairy foods and 8 to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and is also recommended by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to prevent and control high blood pressure.

Dairy foods are an integral part of DASH because they contain a trio of minerals – calcium, potassium and magnesium – that play an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure.

Here are easy some ways from American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to DASH up your diet and make healthy food choices:

Start at Breakfast
Get ahead of the game and start your day with a whole grain cereal, fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt.

Re-Think Your Drink
Make lowfat and fat-free milk your beverage of choice. Serve lowfat white or flavored milk at meals. Choose a skinny latte, milk steamer or hot chocolate made with lowfat milk.

Reinvent the Vegetable
Try new vegetables by serving them with low-fat yogurt dip, topping them with cheese or adding them to stews and casseroles. Add extra fresh canned or frozen vegetables to prepared soups. Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.

Say Cheese!
Make pizza with reduced fat cheese and vegetables. Create a baked potato bar with vegetables, beans, salsa and cheese for toppings. Sprinkle cheese on top of soups and casseroles.

Savvy Up Your Snacks
Create a fruit smoothie with lowfat milk, yogurt and fresh fruit chunks. Serve trays with roasted nuts, pretzels and vegetables served with lowfat yogurt dip. Create snack kabobs with pieces of fruit and reduced fat cheese cubes on pretzel sticks.

Switch Your Sweets
Feed your cravings with fresh or dried fruits or fruit filled gelatin. Layer lowfat yogurt with granola and fruit for a sweet treat. Try lowfat chocolate milk as a sweet tooth remedy.

Make it with Milk
Use lowfat milk in place of water when cooking, especially with oatmeal, boxed rice and pasta dishes.

Super Soups
Prepare soups with lowfat milk instead of water. Add extra fresh, canned or frozen vegetables to prepared soups.

On the Go
Enjoy fresh fruit or single-serving packages of baby carrots, whole grain crackers, string cheese, yogurt smoothies or milk bottles when you are “dashing” around. You can easily eat these in the car, at the office or on the road.

Dining Out
Ask to substitute a side-salad, steamed vegetables or baked potato for French fries. Boost the nutrition in sandwiches by adding tomato, lettuce, peppers and other vegetables. For a sweet ending to your meal, choose a fresh seasonal fruit cup. Choose a nutrient-rich beverage with your meal, such as lowfat or fat-free milk.

Sharon Maynard RD LD

Sharon is a Nutrition Affairs and School Wellness Coordinator for the American Dairy Association Mideast. She is a registered dietitian and a mother of two boys. Sharon loves to travel, meet new people and make a difference!

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