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Modified Dash Diet

A heart-healthy diet is a permanent change in lifestyle, not a short-term fix. The eating pattern I recommend is based on the DASH diet, which is proven to lower blood pressure. However, I suggest some modifications to make the DASH diet a diet for total heart health by further restricting saturated fats and refined grain products. I also suggest adding more beans (a good source of protein), and more sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The chart below compares the original DASH guidelines with my DASH PLUS guidelines for total heart health.

Original DASH guidelines DASH Plus guidelines
Daily Daily
7 to 8 servings grains and grain products About 8 servings whole grains (no limit)
4 to 5 servings vegetables At least 5 servings vegetables
4 to 5 servings fruits At least 5 servings fruits
2 to 3 servings low-fat or fat free dairy products Up to 3 servings fat-free dairy products
1 to 3 servings meat, poultry , or fish Up to 2 servings of seafood
  Beans and legumes (no limit)
4 to 5 servings per week nuts seeds ,or dry beans Up to 2 servings nuts or seeds
2 to 3 teaspoons fats and oils Up to 3 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
5 tablespoons of sugar or its equivalent per week Minimal added sugars

DASH around!

These changes preserve all of the blood-pressure lowering features of the original DASH diet, while adding other heart-health benefits. You already know why I stress WHOLE GRAINS instead of refined grain products. The other modifications reduce saturated fats and increase the "good" fats, which we'll talk about in Week Five of The Healthy Heart Miracle. With these changes, the DASH diet becomes the ideal diet for all of the common heart health concerns.

But no diet, no matter how perfect, will build a healthy heart unless you also stay active, so my DASH PLUS guidelines include exercise. DASH PLUS should be followed strictly by anyone with diabetes, high cholesterol, and/or high blood pressure. For everyone else, they should guide a lifetime of good health choices.

You'll be following DASH PLUS for the rest of my 8-Week Plan. By the end of the program I hope to have you convinced that this change in your eating habits is worth following for the rest of your life.