DASH diet: 5 tips for eating out while protecting your heart and blood pressure

Here are the top tips for avoiding salt and fat when eating out to protect your heart health and lower your blood pressure.

DASH is short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a healthy eating approach designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). The DASH diet encourages you to reduce the sodium content of your diet and eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods that help lower blood pressure and provide many other health benefits. But what happens when you wish you didn’t have to cook at night? With these simple tips in mind, you can dine out while following the DASH diet.

1 Reduce your salt intake

One of the main features of the DASH diet is the reduction in salt intake. Since salt often enhances flavor, it is typically used in large amounts in restaurant meals. When eating out:

– Ask that your dishes be prepared without added salt or without ingredients containing salt.
– Pay attention to ingredients, cooking methods and labels that suggest a product may be high in salt. For example, watch out for pickled, pickled, or smoked foods, or dishes that contain soy sauce or broth.
– Do not use the salt shaker.
– Limit condiments with a high salt content, such as mustard, ketchup, pickles and sauces.
– Opt for fruits and vegetables instead of savory snacks.

2 Reduce unhealthy fats

The DASH diet promotes foods low in saturated fat. To reduce unhealthy fats in restaurants:

– Ask that your dishes be prepared with olive oil, rather than with butter or other less healthy fats.
– Ask for oil and vinegar instead of vinaigrette, or ask for the vinaigrette to be served on the side.
– Trim visible fat from meat and remove the skin from poultry. Only eat a portion the size of a deck of cards.
– Choose foods prepared with healthier cooking techniques, such as steaming, broiling, baking, roasting, poaching or sautéing.
– Order steamed fruits and vegetables without butter or sauce.
– Choose steamed or grilled fish and ask for lemon and fresh herbs for seasoning.

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3 Monitor all dishes

It’s not just the entrance that can sabotage your efforts to follow the DASH diet. Beware of drinks, appetizers, and even soups and salads, some may be more unhealthy than you think:

– Choose water, diet soda, fruit juice, tea and coffee. If you want an alcoholic drink, practice moderation, which means no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
– Choose appetizers with healthy vegetables, fruits or fish.
– If you want a salad, order a fruit salad, a green salad or a spinach salad, without added cheese, eggs or meats, and with a vinaigrette on the side.
– If you don’t want to skip the basket, ask for bread, rolls made from whole grains. Then stick to one piece, preferably unbuttered.
– If you want dessert, choose fresh fruit, sorbet, sorbet, fruit ice cream (sorbet)

4 Avoid large portions

The DASH diet recommends specific servings. But if you’ve eaten out recently, you know the portions are often huge. To avoid overeating:

– Ask for the lunch portion, even if you eat in the evening.
– Replace a starter with an aperitif.
– Share a meal with a companion.

5 Be careful in fast food

Fast food restaurants can be food danger zones. But with these tips, you can enjoy the occasional fast-food meal while sticking to the DASH diet:

– Ask for no added salt.
– Familiarize yourself with the nutrition information of the restaurant, on site or online.
– Opt for healthier dishes, such as a simple hamburger (often lower in sodium than a chicken or fish sandwich), wholemeal bread, milk and low-fat yogurts.
– Stick to normal-sized meals or even children’s meals.
– Beware of fast food salads, which often contain unhealthy extras, like cheese and dressing.
– Choose grilled, roasted or steamed foods. Avoid those that are fried.
– Choose healthier sides, such as a baked potato or fresh fruit.

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DASH meal plan. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


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