DASH Diet: 5 Great Breakfast Foods to Try
Take a look at our picks for the best DASH diet-friendly breakfast foods, as well as valuable information about what exactly the DASH diet is.
If you have hypertension, better known as high blood pressure, the DASH diet is one style of eating that may be helpful to try. This approach to eating caters to people with high blood pressure in particular – DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
Figuring out what to eat when you have high blood pressure can be tough, but the DASH diet aims to make it a bit easier. One meal that can be tricky for people with hypertension is breakfast, as many early-morning staple foods are high in saturated fats and sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure.
The DASH diet has a solution for this – and we’re here to tell you all about it.
Adherents to the DASH diet take a unique approach to eating breakfast, and that sometimes means making some changes to classic recipes. If the idea of saying goodbye to your favorite breakfast foods sounds impossible, take a look at these five DASH-friendly breakfast ideas.
Give them a try, and hopefully, you won’t miss your old breakfast anytime soon.
What Is the DASH Diet and How Can It Help?
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet is one helpful answer to the epidemic of high blood pressure among American adults. One in every three adults in the United States suffers from high blood pressure, which means tens of millions of people are at an increased risk of heart disease.
So, how does the DASH diet deal with hypertension? Let’s find out, then rank our favorite DASH diet breakfast foods.
DASH is Low-Sodium
A high sodium intake is one of the primary risk factors for hypertension, and it’s also a hallmark of the Standard American Diet (SAD).
Avoiding excessive amounts of sodium can be difficult when you eat highly processed foods for snacks and stop by the drive-thru most days of the week — regular habits that millions of Americans have. Many of the ultra-processed foods that are so popular in the United States are packed with hundreds of milligrams of sodium in just a single serving.
Contrary to the Standard American Diet, DASH prioritizes foods that are low in sodium. Most adherents to the diet stick with less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is the recommended max under the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
However, it’s important to consult with your doctor about an ideal sodium intake if you experience hypertension and want to try the DASH diet.
- Avoiding sodium on the DASH diet typically looks something like this:
- Avoiding high-salt seasonings and condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, and more
- Skipping the ultra-salty snack foods that you’ll find in convenience stores – potato chips, pretzels, crackers, and other similar snacks
- Eating unsalted nuts instead of the salted variety
- Avoiding pickled foods, as these are soaked in salty brine
DASH is High-Potassium
The DASH diet primarily emphasizes eliminating high-sodium and high-fat foods, but it’s not all about restriction. This diet also encourages you to prioritize getting plenty of vitamins and minerals from whole, unprocessed foods.
The food groups that the DASH diet advises you to eat are particularly rich in potassium, as well other important micronutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
Potassium is a heart-healthy nutrient that everyone needs, whether they have hypertension or not. In fact, low potassium levels are directly linked with hypertension, which makes this mineral a top priority in the diets of people with high blood pressure.
An average adult male needs around 3,400 milligrams of potassium per day, while the average adult female needs quite a bit less – around 2,600 milligrams. Adherents to the DASH diet get their potassium from foods like legumes, potatoes, bananas, leafy greens, avocados, and lean seafood.
DASH is Low in Saturated Fat
Not all fat is linked to hypertension, and the DASH diet certainly isn’t categorically low-fat. However, DASH eaters are advised to steer clear of high levels of saturated fats. This type of fat abounds in full-fat dairy products like whole milk and butter, as well as red meat.
Avoiding saturated fat is one aspect of the DASH diet that can be difficult when it’s time for breakfast. Staples like sausage, bacon, butter, and cheese are all discouraged for the DASH diet due to their high saturated fat content. However, there are plenty of other options for breakfast when eating on DASH, which we’ll discuss shortly.
Top 5 Best Breakfast Foods for the DASH Diet
Now that you’re familiar with the parameters for the DASH diet and what you should try to avoid eating while following it, let’s talk about what you’re encouraged to eat, specifically for breakfast. Below are our picks for the best breakfast foods to try while on the DASH diet.
Oats are a whole grain, which means they contain plenty of fiber and complex carbohydrates, plus plain oatmeal usually has minimal ingredients added in. In addition, a serving of oatmeal contains four percent of your daily value for potassium, one of the key nutrients for someone with hypertension.
As far as nutrition goes, oats are certainly impressive. On top of the potassium and fiber, a serving of oatmeal contains plenty of iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, and calcium. Oats are also a low-sodium food, which makes them even more ideal for DASH.
If you love to add toppings to your oatmeal in the morning, you’re in luck when it comes to the DASH diet. Berries, low-salt peanut butter, unsalted nuts, and seeds are all fair game on a DASH eating plan. In addition, many of these toppings contain plenty of nutrients that your body needs anyway, including fiber and healthy fats.
#2: Avocado Toast
Avocados are excellent sources of the healthy fats that are a big part of the DASH eating plan. Combine mashed avocado with a slice of whole grain bread, and you have everything you need for a filling, DASH-friendly breakfast.
When making avocado toast on the DASH diet, it’s best to avoid seasoning your toast with salt. Instead, try adding flavor to your breakfast with other herbs and spices, such as black pepper, paprika, or basil.
#3: Fresh Fruit
Eating fruit for breakfast is the perfect way to start the day. Fruits like bananas, which are packed with potassium, are especially beneficial for anyone with high blood pressure, but any fruit is welcome on the DASH diet as it provides healthy fiber, vitamins, and healthy sugar.
#4: A Simple Protein Shake
One of the best ways to stay full while trying a lower-fat diet like DASH is eating plenty of protein. Protein is one of the three macronutrients that your body needs to thrive, and it’s essential for building and maintaining strong muscles. However, not all protein sources are compatible with the DASH eating plan.
Instead of getting your protein from red meat or fatty poultry during breakfast, try making a simple breakfast protein shake. All you need is a blender, some frozen fruit, protein powder, a non-dairy milk, and any other DASH-friendly ingredients you want to add. Those extra ingredients can be anything from flax seeds to oats to greens like spinach and kale.
When making a protein shake on the DASH diet, consider opting for plant-based protein powder instead of whey. Plant-based protein is preferable because it is usually lower in fat than milk-derived whey protein powder.
#5: Egg White Omelets
Eggs are the classic breakfast food, but you may want to do them a bit differently when you try the DASH diet. The high-fat yolk of the egg isn’t exactly compatible with the DASH style of eating, but the high-protein egg whites are. Luckily, it’s easy to separate the whites from the yolks and make a delicious egg white omelet for breakfast.
Making an egg white omelet is one of our favorite ways to do a DASH-friendly breakfast. This type of omelet gives you minimal saturated fat and sodium while providing plenty of valuable nutrients like protein, iron, and vitamin B12. Plus, there is plenty of room to personalize your omelet with healthy add-ins like spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, and even smoked salmon.
When making an egg white omelet on the DASH diet, there are a few common ingredients that you’ll want to avoid. These include meats like bacon and ham, as well as cheese and butter. Ham and bacon contain high levels of saturated fat and sodium, as do full-fat dairy products like cheese and butter.
Changing your diet for the sake of your blood pressure can be tough. It’s often difficult to make any type of sacrifice for your health, but it’s worth it in the long run. In addition, trying the DASH diet to lower your blood pressure doesn’t have to be hard, especially with many foods still available to eat.
To learn more about how to live a healthier life and take the best possible care of yourself, make sure to visit our blog, and if you’re having trouble with high blood pressure, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your Primary Care Provider for additional guidance.