- The DASH diet is better than the Mediterranean diet for heart health, according to experts.
- Registered dietitian Rosanne Rust has been following the diet for eight years.
- She told Insider what she likes to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert on the DASH diet.
The Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension diet is usually recommended for people who have high blood pressure — and so reduces the risk of heart attacks and stroke — but can also be followed as a generally healthy diet.
The DASH diet includes lots of vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts, and skinless fish and poultry, according to the American Heart Association. It also focuses on reducing salt, saturated fat, as well as red meat, alcohol, and added sugars.
It’s often compared to the Mediterranean diet, with the AHA naming it as even better for heart health earlier this year. While the Mediterranean diet allows for alcohol in moderation the DASH diet aims to keep it to a minimum. The DASH diet also addresses added salt.
But Dr. Amit Khera, a professor of medicine and director of the preventive cardiology program at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas who has helped draw up AHA guidelines, told the organization in 2019 that the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet are more alike than they are different.
Rosanne Rust, a registered dietitian who specializes in heart health and who’s been following the DASH diet for eight years, told Insider about what she tends to eat on a daily basis.
Breakfast: Yogurt with toppings
For breakfast, Rust eats nonfat yogurt with berries, such as blueberries or raspberries, and tops them with some chia seeds or a little seeded granola.
She said an easy way to make your diet “more DASH” is to try and add fruit or vegetables to any meal. A breakfast like this is better than just a slice of toast, because it contains a serving of dairy as well as nutrients and fiber from the fruit. Blueberries are great, because they are full of antioxidants, she said.
Lunch: Flatbread with salad and tuna
Rust likes to fill a flatbread, such as pita or naan, with hummus, lots of chopped vegetables, and sometimes tuna for lunch.
When buying bread, she checks the nutrition label and picks one with low levels of sodium (or salt) so she’s not eating too much. The AHA recommends that adults eat no more than 2,300 millligrams of sodium a day, and ideally less than 1,500 milligrams, to protect heart health.
The AHA also recommends eating two portions of fish per week as it is thought to benefit cardiovascular health and lower the risk of stroke.
Insider previously reported that Skipjack canned tuna, which is used in many light tuna products, is a smarter choice than other canned tunas because it contains lower levels of mercury, according to the FDA.
Dinner: Vegetable stew
For dinner, Rust likes to have a stew with lots of vegetables, such as tomatoes, chickpeas, carrots, and celery. She sometimes adds ground turkey for protein, or makes a ratatouille instead of a stew.
Cooking your vegetables can actually increase their benefits: cooked tomatoes release more lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect against cell damage, than raw tomatoes, for example.
Dessert: Homemade oatmeal crisp
Rust likes to make her own desserts at home so that she can control the amount of sugar in them, for example by only using two tablespoons if a recipe calls for a cup. She also likes to incorporate fruit into her dessert, again to maximize the amount of fruit and vegetables in her diet.
She makes oatmeal crisp, which is cooked fruit baked with sweet, crumbly oats on top, which provide protein and fiber, with fresh apples or pears.
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