Health Education-DASH

​Nutrition & Chronic Conditions

"Physicians frequently diagnose chronic diseases that are directly impacted by the diet. For example, if you have high blood pressure, you may have too much sodium in your diet." - Maria Velken, MPH. Certified Health Educator with Hill Physicians Medical Group.

We asked Maria to tell us more about what kind of diet she might recommend for someone who was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure.
*The following is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Please consult with a physician before starting or changing your diet or any prescribed treatment regimen.

The DASH Diet

DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was originally developed to help lower blood pressure.  Research has shown that people who follow the DASH diet for a few months not only lose weight, but are able to lower their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a BP reading) by 8 – 14 points. Combining DASH with a low sodium diet is even more beneficial for lowering BP than following the DASH diet or reducing sodium intake alone. The DASH diet has proven so successful that many healthcare providers “prescribe” DASH + Sodium Reduction first for patients newly diagnosed with elevated blood pressure. In addition to improving blood pressure, the DASH diet also lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, significantly reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

DASH Diet Tips

DASH emphasizes lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and avoidance of foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar. In order to make the DASH diet a lifelong approach to eating, make one change at a time and add another when you feel that you have successfully adopted the earlier changes.

For example:

Add at least 1 serving of cooked or raw vegetables at lunch and at dinner. A serving is about ½ cup cooked vegetables and 1 cup if raw.
Add a serving of fruit to your meals or as a snack. Serving sizes vary with fruit, so if you are concerned about the amount of fructose (fruit sugar) and calories in your favorite fruit, serving size information is easily found online. Be careful with canned and dried fruits. Avoid canned fruit packed in syrup and stick to a small handful as an appropriate serving size for dried fruit. And some other easy adjustments to your existing diet, such as;

  • Use only half your typical serving of butter, margarine, or salad dressing, and use low-fat or fat-free versions of your favorite condiments.
  • Choose low-fat or skim dairy products any time you would normally use full-fat or cream.
  • Limit lean meat to 6 ounces a day. 3 ounces is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards.
  • Make some meals vegetarian, preparing beans or tofu instead of meat.
  • Instead of snacking on chips or sweets, eat unsalted pretzels or nuts, raisins, low-fat and fat-free yogurt, frozen yogurt, unsalted plain popcorn with no butter, and raw vegetables.

The DASH diet calls for a certain number of servings daily from various food groups. The number of servings you require will vary, depending on how many calories you need per day to maintain your weight or lose weight.

Maria Velken, MPH. Certified Health Educator is just one of the many health professionals that makeup the whole team at Hill Physicians Medical Group. Learn more about our Care Management programs.

Hill Physicians offers Nutritional Counseling for our members. Talk with your doctor about your goals for weight loss, better health or even controlling diabetes or blood pressure through a diet plan and get a referral for your consultation.​

Not with Hill yet?

Your doctor might already be a part of Hill Physicians. Find Your Doctor in our directory then call your health plan and just ask them to switch you to Hill as your Medical Group for these and other healthy extras.