DASH Diet rated top diet for health and weight loss

By: Lisa Warren, MS, RD

Keep that New Year’s Resolution and DASH into Good Health!

For many Americans, their 2015 resolutions to lose weight and eat healthier have been forgotten.  But it doesn’t have to be like that – in fact, good health can be just a DASH away!  Every year, US news and World Report ranks diets for ease in following, safety, efficacy, and sound nutrition. The Dash Diet has been ranked number 1 for the past 4 years!  Originally developed to help control blood pressure (hence the name Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), it was found that this diet can also help lower blood lipids and result in weight loss.  So, why not try it—what do you have to lose besides a little weight?

Here are some key points to get started:

  • Eat lots of vegetables and fruits ( 4 – 5 servings of each)
  • Include fat free or low fat dairy products (2-3 servings)
  • Make whole grains part of your daily intake (6-8 servings)
  • Pump up muscles with protein foods like legumes, fish, poultry, nuts and seeds (6 ounces or less of meats and legumes, nuts, seeds 4 – 5 times/week)
  • Limit sodium to 1500 mg , but no more than 2300 mg daily

It’s Easy!

  • Increase fruits and vegetables in your daily diet by adding an extra serving at lunch or dinner or for a snack in between meals. Remember, ½ cup of cooked vegetable or 1 cup raw, 1 medium size piece of fruit (size of a tennis ball), or ¼ cup dried fruits all equal a single serving. The fiber will help fill you up and is naturally low in sodium.
  • Make a meatless dinner twice a week – use dried beans or legumes as your protein source.
  • Watch those labels for sodium content. Fresh is best whenever possible! Boost the flavor in your food with spices or herbs that don’t contain sodium or learn to enjoy the natural flavor of foods.

Don’t give up!

Whatever you do, don’t give up!  If you go off track, don’t abandon the whole plan.  Take it one step at a time and incorporate one new thing a week.  Need a little help?  Take a look on line at DASH.org or National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website or ask a registered Dietitian. Check out this delicious recipe:


Quinoa Spinach Patties

1 cup cooked quinoa

4 eggs, whisked

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

3 large scallions, sliced thin

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup steamed, chopped spinach (frozen can be used)

1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1 teaspoon olive oil

Rinse quinoa with water and then place in a medium saucepan with 2 cups water.  Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook until quinoa is tender and has absorbed liquid – about 20 minutes.  Cool.

Combine cooked quinoa, eggs, parmesan, scallions, garlic, steamed spinach and breadcrumbs.  Let liquid absorb before shaping into patties using ¼ cup of mixture for each patty.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium low heat.  Cook patties covered for 8 – 10 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Makes 14 patties

Serving size 2 patties:  200 calories, 6 g total fat, 26 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein, 4 g fiber, 140 mg sodium, 245 mg potassium


Try a plant-based diet

Diets rich in delicious whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes can help prevent or actually reverse heart disease. That’s huge!

Over 83 million American’s have some form of heart disease that can be directly related to unhealthy eating.   Our typical Western diet is to blame, laden with animal meats, fat, and sugars.  Several authors have touted plant-based eating over the years such as Ornish and Esselstyn as a way to reverse damage in the blood vessels and prevent recurrences.  Even though it will require a commitment to a specific way of eating, the rewards can be tremendous!

Other benefits to plant based eating include prevention of:

  • diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer


Get Started!  Too Strict?   Don’t Depair!

  • Take a look on the internet at sites such as 21 vegan kickstart (pcrm.org/kickstartHome/ ) or in books by Esselstyn, Pritikin, or Ornish to get started. There are many recipes online and in published books on the topic that can make this way of life enjoyable and delicious.

If you feel like the plant based diet is too strict for you, maybe you can consider becoming a Flexitarian.  That’s a flexible vegetarian diet with an occasional animal protein.  It is often called the 3-4-5 way of eating – that is 300 calories at breakfast, 400 calories at lunch, and 500 calories at dinner with 150 calorie snacks depending on the calorie level you need.  Any way you look at it, eating more vegetables can be a great way to much healthier you!  Need a little help?  Ask a registered Dietitian.

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