Decreasing Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium with the DASH Diet - dummies

Decreasing Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium with the DASH Diet

By Sarah Samaan, Rosanne Rust, Cynthia Kleckner

In general, you should choose less packaged, processed food. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is low in saturated fat, so keep an eye out for the amounts you see on food labels. Look for foods that have less than 1.5 grams of saturated fat per serving. DASH is also low in cholesterol and total fat and limits sugary foods and beverages.

The DASH diet is lower in sodium, recommending no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. The 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans advise people who already have high blood pressure, or have diabetes or kidney disease, to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. This guideline also applies to middle-aged or older adults.

Younger, healthy folks can handle a bit more sodium, but staying under 2,300 milligrams per day is a good bet. The DASH research shows that eating plans that are lower in sodium lower blood pressure further. The following table shows the breakdown of various nutrients used in the DASH studies.

Daily Nutrient Goals Used in DASH Diet Studies
Macronutrient Percentage of Daily Calories
Total fat 27%
Saturated fat 6%
Protein 18%
Carbohydrate 55%
Nutrient Amount
Cholesterol 150 milligrams (mg)
Sodium 2,300 mg
Potassium 4,700 mg
Calcium 1,250 mg
Magnesium 500 mg
Fiber 30 grams

Source: National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute

Of course, because one of the goals of the DASH diet is also to maintain a healthy body weight, you must figure out how many calories you need. To lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit.