DASH Food Pyramid
Dietary Approaches to Hypertension
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Eat Well to Age Well
Use this DASH Food Pyramid (Dietary Approaches to Hypertension) to plan your daily quota of five fruit and vegetables and also to ensure you get all the nutrients you need, while avoiding foods which might lead to age-related conditions.
Foundation Level of Food Pyramid
The bottom level is the foundation of the DASH Food Pyramid and you can eat as much as you like from this level. It includes two groups: Fruits and Vegetables.
Nowadays we are recommended to eat five fruit and vegetable servings a day.
Vegetables may be the most nutritionally important part of our diet, providing us with necessary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Some vegetables also provide additional carbohydrates and protein.
Many vegetables are very low in calories, so we can eat larger quantities or those without worry.
Fruits are important to our diet because they add variety, provide a dilute sugar source for carbohydrates, have some fiber when eaten whole, and they satisfy our sweet tooth. A few fruits also are good sources of vitamin C, one of the vitamins we need daily. A very few have iron or carotene, a vitamin A source, too.
One of the pitfalls in our diets is the tendency to eat fruits instead of vegetables. They are not nutritionally the same. Too often we choose juices which lack the fiber of the whole fruits. Orange juice and tomato juice are particularly rich in vitamins and minerals Some fruits have more vitamins and minerals than others, please check out our pages on superfoods.
Next Up from the Bottom
The Second Level up in the DASH Food Pyramid also contains foodstuffs which can be used as the basis of your meal plans, along with fruit and vegetables.
Grains are and excellent sources of complex carbohydrate, or starch, which provides us with fuel. About 60% (minimum) of our calories should be provided by carbohydrates, including the complex carbohydrates found in whole grains. Processed grain products lose much of their nutritional value, and their starches are metabolized much the same way as concentrated sugars in the body.
In addition to carbohydrate, whole grains may also provide, niacin, iron, thiamin, zinc and fiber.
We should have 6 - 11 serving of grains daily, which can include bread, cereal, and pasta.
Middle Layer - Dairy Products, Fish, Poultry and Meat
The Middle Layer in the DASH Food Pyramid is divided into two portions, dairy products (of which you should choose low-fat and Low Fat Dairy foods, which include milk, yogurt and cheese, are important to our health because of the calcium they provide, but people with a milk allergy (or more correctly, a lactose intolerance) should avoid these products or go for low lactose varieties.
Favor skimmed milk, semi-skimmed milk, and all low fat dairy products, goats cheese, low-fat cheese, feta cheese, 0 percent fat, natural yogurt, or and frozen yogurt, cottage cheese.
If you do not live in sunny climes, Vitamin D fortified milk if you can find it.
Check the labels for calcium and vitamin A & D enriched, low fat, no or little sugar products.
In addition to being a superb calcium source, dairy products also provide Vitamin B6, protein riboflavin and zinc.
In addition to dairy produce foods included at this level of the DASH Food Pyramid are the following proteins:
- Beans, peas, pulses, nuts
Protein need only be 10 - 15% of our calories.
Meat protein sources also contain a lot of fat, and add saturated fat and unneeded calories to our diets. Red meat should only be consumed once or twice a week.
However, meat and meat equivalents also provide vitamins and minerals, including:
Iron, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, Vitamin B12 and zinc.
Favor fish (especially oily fish), egg whites, skinless, lean white meat, peanut butter (in small amounts) bean, nuts and pulses.
Level Before the Tip of Pyramid
The level before the top of the DASH Food Pyramid is also divided into two, one side includes beans, pulses and seeds, and the second fats, such as butter, margarine, oils, salad dressing and mayonnaise and also nuts.
Beans, pulses, seeds
Have one serving of one of these per day. In a vegetarian diet they are a good source of protein.
Fats - including butter, oils (including olives and avocados), mayonnaise,
cream, most nuts,
Favor beans, pulses, seeds, olive oil, avocados and nuts from this category.
Apex of the DASH Food Pyramid - Sweets, Snacks, Meat
Sweets including jams and jelly, sweets or candy, pastries and cakes, syrup, honey, chocolate. We can also include in this section snacks of all sorts, including potato chips, granola bars and cookies, beverages, including coffee, tea, alcohol, sodas and chocolate drinks. In this category we could also include seasonings such as sauces, spices and flavorings.
Most of these foods should be consumed sparingly and infrequently as many of them contain concentrated sugars and are high in calories and fats. Added to this they are lacking in vitamins and minerals. The more we consume these foods the less likely we are to have a healthy diet.
Favor dark chocolate, honey in moderation, low sugar jams and pastries and cakes with low sugar and low fat content and wholemeal low fat, low sugar cookies and crackers, granola bars, green tea and black coffee with no added sugar. Drink water instead of sodas.
The DASH Diet Guide
Links to Further Information
High Blood Pressure - Page 1
High Blood Pressure - Page 2
DASH Meal Plan Chart
DASH Diet - DIetary Approaches to Hypertension
Mayo Clinic DASH Recipes
Reduce Salt to Lower Blood Pressure
Include Potassium in Your Diet to Lower Blood Pressure
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