The Dash Diet
The DASH diet is one high in potassium, calcium and magnesium which have a lowering effect on blood pressure. It is also low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol which can raise blood pressure. This diet also recommends 1500mg sodium. The average Canadian consumes more than 3400mg per day.
To achieve this, go for more whole grains rather than white refined grains, emphasize fruit and vegetables (8-10 half cup servings a day), choose low fat dairy, lean meat and eat meat less often. Include more nuts, seeds, soy and legumes for alternative protein foods. Include 2-3 Tbsp of polyunsaturated fats (liquid oils such as olive, canola, corn or grapeseed) per day and choose low sodium foods.
Other Strategies to Help Lower Blood Pressure:
• Achieve and maintain a Healthy Body weight
• Reduce alcohol consumption
• Increase activity
• Quit smoking
How to Lower Sodium Intake
- Cook from scratch. If you start with fresh ingredients that are naturally low in sodium you can control the amount of salt you add to your recipe. Avoid the meal in a box, prepared side dishes such as flavoured rice or pasta and some canned soups and frozen dinners.
- Use sodium-reduced and salt-free ingredients. Tomato sauce, tomato juice, canned foods, soups, gravy, frozen dinners. Use other seasonings: ginger, garlic, black pepper, lemon juice and various herbs and spices.
- Hide the salt shaker. Use less in cooking and don’t put the shaker on the table so it isn’t a temptation. Always taste your food before you salt it. You may find you like it just the way it is!
- Avoid deli meats. Make sandwiches with roasted or grilled chicken or turkey breast instead of canned or processed deli meats, which can be packed with sodium.
- Use fresh or frozen first. Cook with fresh or frozen vegetables and dried beans instead of canned. If you do cook with canned beans, be sure to rinse them off to wash off any added sodium.
- Read Nutrition Facts labels and ingredients lists. Buy lower-sodium and sodium-reduced versions of foods. Look for the words "salt-free," "reduced-salt," "low sodium" or "no sodium added" on food packages. Be aware though that reduced salt just means that it has less salt that the original version, it doesn’t mean it is low in salt.
- Compare the % Daily Value for sodium. Us the %DV to compare products and to tell you how much of your daily salt intake you will get from one serving of that food product. The lower the % the better!
- Snack wisely. Avoid salted nuts, crackers, chips and rice crisps. Go for fresh fruit and vegetables with a yogurt or hummus dip, unsalted popcorn or dry roasted unsalted nuts.
- Plan ahead when eating out. Pizza, sandwiches with deli meats, hamburgers and hotdogs are the top sources of sodium in our diet. Check to see if there are sodium reduced items on the menu, consider checking out the website before you go to see if they have nutrition facts for their menu. Be mindful of portions, don’t add salt at the table and consider asking for sauces on the side or requesting vegetables and protein be flavoured without salt.
- Be patient. Salt is dose sensitive and the more you use, the more you want. However, the less you use the less you will need. It takes time for your taste buds to adjust but your heart is worth it!
Heart Healthy Substitutes:
Replace cream in coffee with whole milk or evaporated skim milk
Replace butter in cooking with liquid oil (olive oil)
Replace breaded cod with baked cod with lemon
Replace potato chips with air popped popcorn (drizzled with flaxseed oil)
Replace salted nuts with unsalted nuts or baked soy nuts
Replace prime rib with beef tenderloin
Replace chicken with the skin with skinless chicken
Replace bacon with ham
Replace egg with egg white
Replace salami with roast turkey
Replace scotch with red wine
Replace alfredo sauce with tomato or pesto sauce
Replace white rice with brown rice
Replace white bread with whole grain bread
Replace pork and beans with vegetarian chilli
Replace refried beans with black beans
Top Heart Healthy Groceries you should buy:
Edemame (frozen food section)
Salmon (fresh, frozen or canned)
Steel cut oats
All Bran Buds with psyllium
Blueberries (frozen or fresh)
Chickpeas, lentils, beans
Low fat yogurt
Eat at Home:
Fast Chicken Fajitas (serves 6-8):
8 Whole wheat flour tortillas
1 BBQ chicken (from the deli)
2 tsp olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
1 yellow pepper, sliced into strips
1 yellow onion, sliced into strips
10 mushrooms (or pre-sliced to save time)
1 cup (8oz) grated cheddar cheese
1 cup Fat Free Greek Style plain yogurt
Fresh Tomato salsa (ready made)
- Sauté onion and mushrooms in olive oil until onions are translucent.
- Add sliced peppers and sauté 2 more minutes.
- Grate cheese and place into a small bowl.
- Fill another bowl with chicken pieces pulled off the carcass (no skin)
- Add sautéed vegetables to another bowl
- Heat tortillas in microwave 20 seconds each or all for 1 minute.
- Allow each family member to assemble their own fajita
- Spread 1 Tbsp yogurt on tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, add vegetables and chicken and top with salsa.
- Fold in both ends of the tortilla (1 inch) and roll it up into a cylinder.
- Enjoy with a green salad and light dressing.