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Understanding the DASH Diet

Content by: Erin (Nugent) Bern, RD

What is DASH? DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension. Read More!

Understanding the DASH Diet





The DASH eating pattern can be used to treat or prevent hypertension. In addition to lowering blood pressure, the DASH diet has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

▪️ Includes foods rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium
▪️ Rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish, beans, poultry, nuts
▪️ Limits saturated fats, sodium and added sugars
▪️ Avoids full fat dairy, and fatty meats
▪️ Limits daily sodium intake to 2,300mg per day

Sodium is a necessary nutrient that allows the body to function properly. Sodium plays a role in water balance, absorption of glucose, and muscle and nerve function. Most unprocessed foods contain small amounts of sodium. Therefore, aside from malnutrition or extremely excessive perspiration, a sodium deficiency is exceedingly rare.

Sodium intake adds up throughout the day. And, it may come as a surprise that the biggest culprit for sodium intake is NOT the salt shaker.

*FACT*: The greatest source of sodium in today’s diets are actually processed and convenience foods!

Salt works as a very effective preservative to extend the shelf life of many things. It is also a very cheap way to add flavor. This makes some of the most common culprits frozen and canned goods.

💭 Food for Thought: one slice of frozen pizza contains over ⅓ of the daily recommended sodium intake.

Potassium, magnesium and calcium are important nutrients to consider when it comes to blood pressure management. Potassium helps to offset excessive sodium intake by promoting the excretion of excess sodium and water. Magnesium aids in dilating arteries which helps to lower blood pressure. And, calcium is an important factor when it comes to nerve function and smooth muscle contraction which can help to regulate blood pressure.

When it comes to preparing food at home, it is ideal to avoid the salt shaker altogether. Look for recipes that utilize herbs and spices for flavor. If a recipe calls for a seasoning with salt, look in the spice aisle for a salt free substitute (the grocery store is filled with options). Always choose “no salt added” canned goods, and low sodium broth. And, remember that salt is present in most convenience foods, so the best way to lower intake is by cooking at home and cooking from scratch.

Next Steps:

1️⃣ Share the Download Attached.

2️⃣ Use the "Tips for Reducing Sodium at Home" social post to share with clients via email, text, newsletters, etc. as a friendly reminder, a checkin and more.

3️⃣ Use the filters in the Recipes App to help find low sodium friendly recipes.

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