The DASH Diet Includes Dairy for Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease – including heart disease, stroke, and hypertension, or high blood pressure – continues to be the leading cause of death in men AND women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease costs the United States over $300 billion each year in health care expenses.
Due to these alarming statistics, February has been declared American Heart Month, with the goal being to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease risk factors and prevention strategies. There are some heart disease risk factors that we cannot control, including age, family history, and ethnicity; however, there are also several steps we can take to prevent or manage heart disease and stroke. The risk factors we can control include, diet, exercise, tobacco use, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
The American Heart Association recommends a dietary pattern that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts; while limiting foods high in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar.
One of the best dietary patterns recommended for individuals at risk or dealing with heart disease is the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). In January, 2015 an expert panel from the U.S. News and World Report voted the Dash Diet the best and healthiest dietary eating plan for Americans for the 5th year in a row! The DASH Diet focuses on consuming a variety of foods from all five food groups and is an excellent eating pattern for everyone to follow! Based on a 2,000 calorie diet the Dash Diet eating pattern includes:
- 7-8 servings of grains, with at least 3 whole grains per day.
- 4-5 servings of fruit per day
- 4-5 servings of vegetables per day
- 2 servings or less of lean meat, fish, and poultry per day
- 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes per week
- 3 servings of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods per day
In fact, The DASH Diet encourages foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and protein – all of which are nutrients found in milk and dairy products. One 8 ounce glass of low-fat milk contains:
- 30% of our daily calcium requirements
- 20% of our daily Vitamin D requirements
- 8 grams of high-quality protein
- 366 mg of potassium
Milk, cheese, and yogurt contain potassium and other important nutrients that can help prevent and manage heart disease and stroke. Consuming at least 3 servings of dairy foods every day is a delicious and EASY step to keep your heart happy! Happy National Heart Month!