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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.
Servings: 7-8 a day
A serving is:
1 slice bread
1 ounce dry cereal
half a cup cooked rice or pasta
Best choices: Whole grains and any grains high in fiber.
Servings: 4-5 a day
1 cup raw leafy vegetable
Half a cup cooked vegetable
Three-quarter cup vegetable juice
Best choices: Fresh or frozen vegetable prepared without too much added salt or fat.
Three-quarter cup fruit juice
1 medium fruit
One-quarter cup dried fruit
One-half cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
Best choices: A variety of fresh fruits of different colors. Whole fruits are a much better choice than fruit juices.
Servings: 2-3 a day
8 ounces 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: 2 or fewer a day
3 ounces cooked meat, poultry, or fish
Best choices: Lean meats and fish. Trim away visible fat. Broil, roast, or boil instead of frying. Remove skin from poultry before eating.
Servings: 4-5 a week
One third cup nuts (or one and a half ounces)
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Half a cup cooked beans
Best choices: “Dry roasted” nuts with no salt added, lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and whole pinto beans.
Servings: 2 a day
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon soft margarine
1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon regular mayonnaise
2 tablespoons light salad dressing
1 tablespoon regular salad dressing
Best choices: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive, canola, or safflower 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)
8 ounces lemonade
Best choices: Dried fruit can be a satisfying sweet. Choose low-fat sweets when possible. And watch your serving sizes!
For more on the DASH eating plan, visit: