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It’s been a while since I’ve posted any meal ideas or recipes for this blog. I’ve been focused on the high fat Keto Diet for weight loss, but today I want to focus on the DASH Diet – the best diet for lowering hypertension aka high blood pressure.
DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and is the opposite of the Keto Diet in many ways. For one thing, the DASH Diet encourages 6 to 8 servings of wholegrain vegetables each day whereas grains are largely shunned in the Keto Diet.
In addition to obesity, many of us are battling other diseases that come along with being obese, namely diabetes and high blood pressure. Since I’m all about providing quick and healthy meal ideas for all ways of eating, today I’m giving love to those who need to follow a low sodium diet.
I’ll provide a full day’s worth of DASH Diet meal ideas and combinations to get you started eating deliciously on a low sodium diet.
What To Eat On The DASH Diet?
The first things to know about the DASH diet are the daily amounts of sodium to consume as well as the recommended servings of each type of macro nutrient (carbohydrates, fats, protein, etc.) The Standard Dash diet allows for consumption of up to 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day and the lower sodium version allows for up to 1,500 milligrams.
In terms of macro nutrients, the DASH diet recommends the following:
- Whole Grains: 6 to 8 servings per day
- Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings per day
- Fruits: 4 to 5 servings per day
- Lean meat, poultry and fish: Up to 6 servings per day
- Eggs: limit consumption to 3-5 servings per WEEK
- Dairy: 2 to 3 servings per day
Fats & Oils:
- All types: 2 to 3 servings per day
Legumes, Nuts and Seeds:
- All types: 4 to 5 servings per WEEK
In terms of food preparation, it’s suggested that all meats are trimmed of excess fat and cooked with dry heat and little to no extra added fat or oil. It’s also good to limit red meats and instead consume lean poultry and fish that are high in omega-3 like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and tuna.
Armed with these basics, we can now delve into some DASH Diet meal ideas for our daily three square meals. First up!
The DASH diet is generous when it comes to wholegrain grains, so there are lots of options available for an entire day’s worth of meals including breakfast. Whole grains include cereals, bread, rice and pasta and you can have two or more servings of this macro nutrient for breakfast.
Whole grain breakfast foods include:
- Whole-wheat or wholegrain-grain bread
- Muesli and othe Whole grain cereals
The DASH Diet recommends up to 6 servings of proteins per day, so feel free to add some to your breakfast. Suitable breakfast proteins include:
- Bacon (turkey, pork, beef or duck) limit serving to one slice as bacon can be very salty
- Eggs – limit to 3 to 5 servings per week as they are very high in fat
- Tofu Scramble
- Cottage Cheese
- Nut Butters (are also legumes)
You may also include some veggies, fruit/berries, dairy and a bit of oils/fats during meal prep for breakfast. Any combination of these foods will give you a satisfying breakfast that will keep you fueled for hours until lunchtime.
Lunch for the DASH diet may include lots of vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy with a serving or two of whole grains added to make a filling and tasty meal. Some easy DASH diet lunch combinations can include:
Wholegrain – 2 servings:
- Brown Rice
- Quinoa (also a source of protein)
- Wholegrain Pasta
Fresh or Frozen Vegetables – 2 to 3 servings:
- Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli-rabe, broccoli florets, cauliflower and brussels sprouts
- Mixed Veggies – frozen pack mixes that can include corn, carrots, peas, green beans, etc.
- Green Leafy Veggies – spinach, kale, chard, lettuce (butter, romaine, etc.), beet greens, etc.
- Peppers, onions and garlic
Lean Proteins – 1 to 2 servings
- Poultry – chicken and turkey
- Cheese (also dairy)
Legumes – 1 serving
By matching and combining any of these wholegrain foods you can come up with a great number of, satisfying meals. The only caveat is you use spices to add flavor to your dishes without adding too much salt.
Remember, if you’re following the Standard DASH Diet, then you’re allowed up to 1 teaspoon of salt every day and if you’re following the lower sodium version, you can have up to a little more than half a teaspoon. This means that you will have to be extra careful when seasoning all meals including lunch.
Dinner meal ideas for the DASH Diet can mimic the ones used for lunch. For DASH Diet dinners we need to replicate the serving amounts of each macro-nutrient to make sure you consume your daily requirements. This means that you’ll have to prepare combinations that consist of two servings of wholegrain grains, two to three servings of vegetables and a serving or two of lean protein.
In addition to the suggestions posted in the lunch section of this post, you can check out my post here for dinner and other meal ideas that you can use for the DASH Diet. Again, be mindful of how much salt you use to seasoning your meal.
The Bottom Line
To accurately follow the DASH Diet you need to limit your total daily sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. An easy ways of limiting sodium in your diet is simply not to add any to your cooked meals. You can season your food by adding a variety of fresh herbs and spices to enhance natural flavors.
Feel free to augment your diet with healthy snacks like fresh fruit and nuts in the suggested amounts for each day and/or week. Also, add small amounts of natural oils like olive oil, avocado oil and non-gmo soy oil. Avoid too many saturated fats like those found in lard and coconut oil. Stick to mono and poly-unsaturated fats if possible.
In many ways the DASH Diet is easy to follow because you get to eat easily accessible, wholegrain, unprocessed foods. As long as you eat the recommended amounts and types of each food group and you stick to a teaspoon or less of sodium you should be good to go. You can learn more about the DASH Diet here.
Do you or someone you know have high blood pressure? Are you following the DASH Diet? Let me know in the comments. Until then, Happy Eating!