We are all always looking to improve our health, which is why every diet that comes to market gains popularity. Though many of them might work, it is much better to help your health with a way of eating backed by science and national health organizations. The Dash Diet has not only been thoroughly researched but is also backed by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Fortunately, DASH is a well-balanced way of eating that easily fits most lifestyles. Check out these DASH diet snack ideas to get you started, but first, we will talk about the principles and phases!
Principles of the DASH Diet
The DASH Diet, at its core, focuses on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in combination with lean meats such as poultry and fish, beans, nuts and seeds, and low fat or fat-free dairy products.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which means that it uses the nutrients in food to help control blood pressure. This diet limits foods high in saturated fat, such as steak and full-fat dairy products.
Overall, a heart-healthy balanced eating plan is recommended if you have high blood pressure.
DASH Diet Phases
The DASH Diet is split into two phases completed one after the other.
Phase one is all about resetting and boosting your metabolism. It lasts two weeks and includes cutting out whole grains and fruits from the diet to minimize spikes in blood sugar. Regulating blood sugar reduces your body’s need for insulin and prevents cravings.
During the first phase, participants often see at least the first of a small reduction of weight which is an additional benefit to the diet.
In the second phase, whole grain products and fruits are added back in to encourage lasting change in their eating plan. The focus in the second phase is to continue to increase weight loss and improve cholesterol and blood sugar.
No matter which phase you are in, you should still avoid processed food and anything high in salt, fat, or sugar.
DASH Diet Phase 1 Snacks
Even though the diet in phase one doesn’t include whole grains or fruits, there are still plenty of snack options.
Low Fat Dairy Foods
Low-fat dairy products make for a great snack. Try having some low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, sliced cheese, cheese sticks, or frozen yogurt. During phase one, you should not pair fresh fruits or dried fruits with these, even though it may seem like a natural pairing. However, you could pair nut butter with yogurt options to add additional flavors and another food group.
Raw vegetables like carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes with salad dressing or hummus make for great phase one snacks. You can also eat the nut butter or, more specifically, peanut butter with celery sticks. Though if you don’t like your vegetables raw, blanching or steaming them will still allow you to get those great nutrients they include.
You don’t have to save lean proteins just for meals; they can make great snacks as well. Pair some low-fat deli slices with a low-fat cheese slice, roll it up, and you have a satisfying snack.
Chicken breast and shrimp can be seasoned and cooked ahead of time to have in the fridge for a snack. Dip your shrimp in cocktail sauce or squeeze some lemon on it and pick your favorite dipping sauce for chicken and you’ll have a fun, fulfilling phase one snack.
Nuts and Seeds
We have already talked about how you can use nut butter to add additional flavors to a snack, but sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, and more are all nuts and seeds that are great on the DASH plan as a snack as well.
However, keep in mind that nuts, seeds, and oils like olive oil are higher in healthy fats but also calories, so be mindful of the serving size to prevent overindulging.
DASH Diet Phase 2 Snacks
In phase two, all of the phase one snacks plus fresh fruit or fresh berries and whole grains such as a whole wheat bagel, graham crackers, wild rice, and unsalted pretzels can be eaten as snacks.
Specific ideas include graham crackers or unsalted pretzels with peanut butter, whole-wheat toast with mashed avocado, dried fruit with nuts or yogurt, fresh berries with a citrus vinaigrette, or fruits and vegetables with dipping sauce.
DASH Diet Snacks On The Go
Though many of the snacks we have gone over can be taken on the go, not all of them are convenient to take with you.
Some of the most convenient DASH diet snacks to take on the go include meat and cheese rollups, fat-free yogurt or cottage cheese cups, and whole fruits like apples, bananas, or oranges. Nut and seed bars work well, too.
However, if you want to take more of a variety on the go, the best way to do that is in divided prepared snack boxes. You can think of these like adult Lunchables.
Get a container that is divided into small sections. In each section, place your snacks or condiments. For example, in a container with four sections, you might choose cucumbers for one, peppers for another, fat-free tzatziki for dipping, and some meat and cheese rollups in the final section. Each of these can be eaten as a separate snack throughout the day or all at once for a DASH diet-approved lunch!
Tips on Starting the DASH Diet
A DASH eating plan may be a great way to aid with your high blood pressure or heart disease, but it will only work if you are able to get started and be consistent.
Take it Slow
One of the best tips for starting the diet is to start slow and make gradual changes. Simply add more vegetables and whole foods to your existing meals. You can also start looking at the nutrition facts to get a sense of proper portion sizes.
Easy Grocery Shopping
When grocery shopping, try shopping around the outside of the store to avoid picking up too many artificial food products that contain trans fats, which are often located in the center aisles. Of course, some things are okay in the center isles, such as dry beans, brown rice, and other whole grains.
One big question is whether those who have sensitivities or allergies to dairy can participate in the DASH dietary plan. While the answer is simply yes, we have a good tip! Lactose-free products can be used to sub in for fat-free dairy. For instance, almond milk is a fantastic replacement for fat-free milk on the DASH diet.
Enjoy These Dash Diet Snacks
The DASH way of eating has been shown repeatedly to lower blood pressure, so if you have high blood pressure, it is a sustainable way of lowering it. High blood pressure can lead to other health problems, so take action today and implement these DASH diet snacks!