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DASH Diet is a Healthy Diet

This diet plan may help you keep your New Year's resolution!

Nashville, Ark. – How’s your New Year’s diet going? Finding it hard to stay on track? If so, you might want to scrap your current diet and look into the DASH diet plan.

            According to a recent article from US News and World Report, the DASH diet tops the list as one of the healthiest diets around. Long associated with lowering blood pressure, the DASH diet is a safe diet for most people. What’s more, the DASH diet is easy to follow and is satisfying.

            DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet along with other lifestyle changes can help you prevent or control blood pressure. Another great benefit of following the DASH diet is helping to lower your cholesterol levels.

            So, what makes the DASH diet different? The plan focuses on eating more natural foods such as whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts. It also increases your intake of fruits and vegetables; thereby it is high in fiber. The DASH eating plan has more daily servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods than usual and reduces the amount of sodium you may have been using.

            The key to reducing salt intake is making wise foods choices. Only a small amount of salt that we consume comes from the salt added at the table, and only small amounts of sodium occur naturally in food. Processed foods are not encouraged on the DASH diet since they contain large amounts of sodium. You are encouraged to read nutrition facts label and choose those foods which are lower in salt or sodium. Processed foods are not encouraged on this plan.

            The DASH eating plan also emphasizes increasing potassium. Many fruits and vegetables, some milk products, and fish are rich sources of potassium.

            Some additional tips to helping you reduce your salt and sodium intake include:

  • Choose low- or reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added versions of foods and condiments when available. Look for those with less than 140 milligrams sodium per serving.
  • Choose fresh, frozen, or canned (low-sodium or no-salt-added) vegetables.
  • Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned, smoked, or processed types.
  • Choose ready-to-eat cereals that are lower in sodium.
  • Limit cured foods (such as bacon and ham); foods packed in brine (such as pickles, pickled vegetables, olives, and sauerkraut); and condiments (such as mustard, horseradish, ketchup, and barbecue sauce).
  • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.
  • Choose “convenience” foods that are lower in sodium. Cut back on frozen dinners, mixed dishes such as pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings.
  • Rinse canned foods, such as tuna and canned beans, to remove some of the sodium.
  • Use spices instead of salt in cooking and at the table. Flavor foods, instead, with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar, or salt-free seasoning blends.
  • Start by cutting salt in half.

            Start the DASH eating plan today! It can help you prevent and control high blood pressure. It also can be heart healthy! And you may even lose a little weight!

            For more information on the DASH diet, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. I will be glad to send you a fact sheet outlining the guidelines of the DASH diet.

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a great recipe that uses no extra sodium, it is easy to prepare. This recipe is very delicious and you will not miss the salt. It is also high in potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber. Use dried apricots in place of fresh if needed.

Chicken with Apricot Salsa

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts pounded to 1/2 –inch thick

8 to 9 dried apricots, chopped

½ cup dry white wine or white grape juice (make sure it is 100% juice)

½ cup low-sodium or no-sodium chicken broth

Juice of 1 orange

¼ cup honey

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 Tablespoon orange zest, fresh

            Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. In the skillet, cook the chicken breasts for 5 to 8 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 165ºF. Once chicken is done, remove to a plate and keep warm.

            In the same skillet, add the apricots, wine or grape juice, chicken broth, orange juice, and honey. Allow the mixture to come to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should thicken slightly.

            Remove pan from the heat and stir in the thyme and orange zest. Spoon sauce over chicken breasts. Serve immediately.

            Add a salad or mixed vegetables for a complete meal.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 287 calories, 7 g fat, 49 mg sodium, 256 mg potassium, 28 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 25 g sugar, 27 g protein

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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