The DASH Diet

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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

The DASH eating plan as part of a heart healthy lifestyle

Making other heart healthy lifestyle changes while following the DASH eating plan is the best way to prevent and control high blood pressure. For example, try to maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, make healthy eating choices, and don't smoke.

Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of a heart healthy lifestyle. If you're overweight or obese, you can lose weight while following the DASH eating plan. By reducing your daily calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories, you can slowly lose weight.

A weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is do-able, safe, and will help you keep off the weight. To create a weight-loss or weight-maintenance plan that's right for you, talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian.

Be physically active

Physical activity also is an important part of a heart healthy lifestyle. You can gain health benefits from as little as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Walking is an excellent heart healthy activity. The more active you are, the more you'll benefit.

To get started and stay active, make physical activity part of your daily routine, keep track of your progress, be active and safe, and talk with your doctor if you have a chronic (ongoing) health condition.

Make healthy eating choices

While following the DASH eating plan, choose and prepare foods with less sodium (salt). Be creative-try herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar, and salt-free seasoning blends while cooking and at the table.

Most of the sodium that people eat comes from processed foods. So, make sure you read the Nutrition Facts labels on prepared foods to check the amount of sodium in each item.

Buy low-sodium, reduced-sodium, or no salt added versions of foods when they're available. Rinse all canned vegetables and beans before cooking and eating them.

Reduced-sodium products and salt substitutes likely contain potassium chloride as a main ingredient. Potassium chloride may harm people who have certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease and diabetes. Check with your doctor before trying reduced-sodium products and salt substitutes that contain potassium chloride.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

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