Making the Move to the DASH diet

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Moving to heart healthy eating may seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips to make DASH work for you.

Change gradually.

If you now eat one or two servings of vegetables a day, add a serving at lunch and another at dinner.

If you don’t eat fruit now or have juice only at breakfast, add a serving of fruit to your meals
or have it as a snack.

Gradually increase your use of milk, yogurt, and cheese to three servings a day. For example, drink milk with lunch or dinner, instead of soda, sugar-sweetened tea, or alcohol.

Choose fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk, yogurt, and reduced-fat cheese to reduce your intake of saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories and to increase your calcium.

Read the Nutrition Facts label on frozen and prepared meals, pizza, and desserts to choose those lowest in saturated fat and trans fat.

Vary your proteins.

Choose lean cuts of meat and remove skin from poultry.

Check the labels on ground meats and poultry and select those with lower saturated fat.

Serve fish instead of meat or poultry once or twice each week.

Include two or more vegetarian (meatless) meals each week.

Aim to fill 1⁄2 your plate with vegetables and fruits, 1⁄4 with whole grains, and 1⁄4 with fish, lean meat, poultry, or beans.

Add extra vegetables to casseroles, pasta, and stir-fry dishes.

Select nutritious, tasty snacks.

Fruits offer great taste and variety. Use fruits canned in their own juice or packed in water. Fresh fruits
are fast and easy and dried fruits are a good choice to carry with you or to have in the car.

Try these snack ideas: unsalted rice cakes; nuts mixed with raisins; graham crackers; fat-free and low- fat yogurt; popcorn with no salt
or butter added; raw vegetables.

Make healthy substitutions.

Choose whole grain foods for most grain servings to get more nutrients, such as minerals and fiber. For example, choose whole wheat bread or whole grain cereals.

If you have trouble digesting milk and milk products, try taking lactase enzyme pills with the milk products. Or, buy lactose-free milk.

If you are allergic to nuts, use beans or seeds (such as sunflower, flax, or sesame seeds).