Issue of December 31, 2017
Mt. Province

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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DASH the diet

As we rush and dash into the season’s festivities, let us consider the diet that has been developed with the sponsorship of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. – the DASH diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is one of the best proven non-drug interventions for the prevention and treatment of hypertension.

The DASH eating plan does not require special foods. It recommends the following:

1. Eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains;

2. Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils;

3. Limiting foods that are high in saturated fats like fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, tropical oils like coconut and palm oil

4. Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets; and

5. Sodium limit of either 1500 or 2300 mg per day. Lower sodium or salt content favors better blood pressure control;

The number of servings depends on your daily calorie or energy needs. These in turn are determined by your gender, age, and daily physical activities – whether you are sedentary, moderately active, or active.

Examples of foods in the DASH Eating Plan are listed below. Choose foods and substitutes that are easily accessible locally and fruits and vegetables that are in season.

1. Grains, major source of energy and fiber: Whole-wheat bread and rolls, whole-wheat pasta, English muffin, pita bread, bagel, cereals, oatmeal, brown rice, unsalted pretzels, and popcorn.

Serving size: 1 slice bread, 1 ounce dry cereal, ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal

2. Vegetables, Rich sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber: Broccoli, carrots, green beans, green peas, kale, potatoes, lima beans, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

Serving size: 1 cup raw leafy vegetable, ½ cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetable, ½ cup vegetable juice.

3. Fruits, important sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber: Apples, bananas, dates, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, mangoes, melons, peaches, pineapples, strawberries, and tangerines.

Serving size: 1 medium fruit, ½ cup dried fruit, 11/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, ½ cup juice

4. Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, major sources of calcium and protein: Fat-free milk or buttermilk, fat-free/low-fat/ reduced-fat cheese and fat-free/low-fat regular or frozen yogurt. If lactose intolerant, try lactose-free or lactose-reduced milk.

Serving size: 1 cup milk or yogurt, 1 ½ ounce cheese

5. Lean meats, poultry, and fish, rich sources of protein and magnesium: Lean meat only, trim away visible fats, broil, roast, or poach. Remove skin from poultry.

Serving size: 1 ounce cooked meat, poultry, or fish, 1 egg

6. Nuts, seeds, and legumes, rich sources of energy, magnesium, protein, fiber: Peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, kidney beans, and lentils.

Serving size: 1/3 cup nuts or 1 ½ ounce nuts, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp or ½ ounce seeds, ½ cup cooked legumes

7. Fats and oils. In the DASH study, 27 percent of calories were from fats and oils added to foods to enhance flavor: Soft margarine, vegetable oil like canola, corn, olive oil; low-fat mayonnaise, and light salad dressing.

Serving size: 1 tsp soft margarine, 1 tsp vegetable oil, 1 tbsp mayonnaise, 2 tbsp salad dressing

8. Sweets and added sugars should be low in fat: Fruit-flavored gelatin, fruit punch, hard candy, jelly, maple syrup, sorbet and ices, sugar.

Serving size: 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp jelly or jam, ½ cup sorbet, gelatin dessert, 1 cup lemonade

As shown in studies, persons who adhered to the DASH diet lowered their blood pressure in two weeks’ time. Further, in a study by Jurashek et. al published in November, combining this diet with low sodium intake led to better control of blood pressure. Low sodium diet means consuming 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. This is equivalent to one teaspoon or 6 grams of salt. 1500 milligrams sodium lowers blood pressure even further than 2,300 milligrams per day. Take note that low sodium diet is not a no-sodium diet. We need salt to function normally. We only need to limit it.

If you have diabetes, liver, gall bladder, kidney, heart, or any other illness aside from hypertension you need to consider the additional limitations because of these illnesses, and as prescribed by your dietitian. For example, if you have moderate to severe kidney disease and the level of potassium in your blood is high, you are advised to limit or not to include fruits and juice.

On a happy note, there will always be food in the menu that will make you enjoy the holidays.

Wishing everyone the best of health in 2018. Happy New Year!

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Medical questions and concerns may be emailed to or Answers will be emailed directly or will be provided in next week’s issue.

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