Nutrition Corner: Holiday diets part II — The DASH Diet

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret -

The holidays are just around the corner and you may be wishing you lost those few pounds you gained last year. Last week, I highlighted the Mediterranean eating plan; this week I will highlight a second research based diet, the DASH diet.

The DASH Diet, “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” is a researched-based eating plan which was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Results show that the DASH “combination diet” lowers blood pressure. Even if you do not have high blood pressure, the DASH diet is a good eating plan to follow as a preventive measure.

The DASH “combination diet” is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods, and low in saturated and total fat. It also is low in cholesterol, high in dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and moderately high in protein. It is based on 2,000 calories a day. Depending on your caloric needs, your number of daily servings in a food group may vary from those listed.

Rich in fruits means eating four to five servings a day. Rich in vegetables means eating the same amount as fruits. This might be a big change for most people because it is estimated we consume only one serving of vegetable a day.

The DASH diet is high in fiber. Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It also recommends four to five servings of nuts, seeds and/or legumes in a week and only five tablespoons of sweets and added sugars per week. Some sodas have up to three tablespoons of sugar per 12 oz. can.

If you are interested in reviewing this diet, call our office at 888-825-1701 and request a copy or visit

Whether you choose the Mediterranean or DASH eating plan, is also important look at some behavior changes.

Anyone who has chosen to pay attention to their eating habits and exercise routine will tell you it does take time and energy to change old habits.

Unhealthy habits such as eating while doing something else can be difficult to break. Keeping a food diary for even just one part of the day (usually your most difficult time) can be a great way to be mindful of the amount and type of foods you eat.

Physical activity does burn calories but, more importantly, it increases our fitness and positive feelers about ourselves and our bodies.

Even as the colder weather hits our area, take small steps to increase the number of minutes you are moving in a day.

Soup is a great way to get those vegetables in. This recipe is a lower calorie version of most cream soups. Be creative, use broccoli, cauliflower or chopped cabbage.

Cream of Vegetable Soup

3 cups chopped vegetables such as broccoli (or 2 10-ounce packages frozen broccoli)

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

2 cups nonfat milk

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Dash pepper

Dash ground thyme

1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese or Asiago

Place vegetables and broth in saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook until vegetables are tender (about 8 minutes). Mix milk, cornstarch, pepper, and thyme; add to cooked vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, until soup is lightly thickened and mixture just begins to boil. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted. Serves 4.

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at