Kathy McManus, M.S., R.D., director, Department of Nutrition


The American Heart Association (AHA) celebrates American Heart Month in February as a way to highlight the importance of cardiovascular health to overall wellbeing. According to the AHA, even modest lifestyle and diet changes can improve heart health and lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. One way to keep your heart healthy is to eat foods that have been shown to lower blood pressure. The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is low in sodium and high in potassium and in combination can help lower blood pressure.

The DASH diet (based on 2000 calories) includes the following:


7-8 servings of whole grain products

4-5 servings of vegetables

4-5 servings of fruit

2-3 low-fat/fat-free dairy products

6-8 oz. or less of poultry fish

2-3 servings of fats and oils


4-5 servings of nuts, seeds, dry beans

Limit red meat, processed meats, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages

What is a serving?

Whole Grains: 1 slice whole grain bread or ¾ cup whole grain cereal

½ cup bulgur, brown rice or whole wheat pasta

Vegetables: 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables

½ cup chopped vegetables

Fruit: 1 medium fresh fruit

½ cup frozen or canned (in its own juice) fruit

Milk and Dairy: 1 cup low-fat or skim milk

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1 ½ oz. low-fat cheese

Developed by the National Institutes of Health, the DASH Diet was ranked by U.S. News and World Report last month as the “best overall diet” for the eighth consecutive year, from among 40 diets reviewed.