February is Heart month! In honour of this, let's look at the gold standard for heart-healthy eating—the DASH diet.
What is the DASH diet? Researchers looked at ways people could adapt their eating to promote healthy blood pressure and a healthy heart. Compared to a usual pattern of eating, if people ate more fruit, vegetables and dairy products, it resulted in reduced blood pressure and lower LDL (or "lousy") cholesterol after just two weeks.1 This is known as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
If we take a closer look at the DASH way of eating, it looks very much like Canada's Food Guide, the national guidelines for healthy eating.1 This is no surprise since the Food Guide is also endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
How do you know if you're getting enough of what you need? Check out Foodtrack: Check on Balance to assess your intake, compare it with the guidelines, and make a plan for change.
To get you started, here are a few ideas to boost fruit, vegetables, and dairy in your diet:
- Make the switch: replace your morning coffee with a latte.
- Colour your lunch: how about crunchy veggie sticks and a yogurt dip?
- Tide yourself over until dinner: pack a piece of fruit with you at work or on the go.
- Spice up your supper: add a side of steamed vegetables, seasoned with herbs or lemon juice.
- Satisfy a sweet craving: try yogurt and fruit for dessert.
For more information about heart health, check out Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
by Nicole Spencer, MEd, RD