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Hi there,

Happy Family Day! (Or whatever holiday you might be celebrating in your neck of the woods.)

Tomorrow is Day 6: Have 2-3 servings of milk products today, and that will be the end of our step-by-step look at the DASH eating pattern. Milk products aren't necessary, but they about double the blood pressure lowering effect of DASH.

Eventually, the hope is that you get to a place where you're hitting each of the DASH food groups fairly consistently. To that end, you might find this DASH tracking sheet useful.  

As always, resources for you: - Cheryl

(From the shopping guide for tomorrow:) 

Milk, yogurt, and cheese round out our exploration of the DASH eating plan, and they can help you get more protein early in the day, which people often lack.

How much is a serving?

We’re talking a cup of milk or yogurt or 50 g (11⁄2 oz) of cheese.

Do I need to choose non-fat or low-fat dairy products?

The original DASH studies were conducted using mostly non-fat or low-fat dairy foods, although not completely – an ounce/30g of cheese daily was included. Because the DASH results have been so positive, many guidelines continue to suggest choosing low-fat milk products.

However, smaller studies performed since then with a DASH-like eating pattern and higher fat dairy have produced similar blood pressure lowering without problematic increases in cholesterol. Other studies support the idea that higher-fat dairy products don’t increase cardiac risk and might actually be helpful.

The 2016 “Canadian Cardiovascular Society Guidelines for the Management of Dyslipidemia for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in the Adult” quietly says that “some food sources of saturated fats, such as milk and dairy products and plant-based sources of saturated fats, have not been reliably associated with harm.”

Bottom line: Low-fat or fat-free is fine if you like it, but go with whatever fat level you prefer. It’s not likely to make a big difference healthwise.

What if dairy isn’t for me?

You can expect to get about twice the blood pressure lowering effect from a DASH eating pattern with dairy than without, but these are all just tools in your blood pressure toolbox. Use the ones that work for you.

Calcium-fortified milk alternatives like soy or almond milk may have a similar effect, although I’m not aware of a study verifying this. Soy has more so that’s my preference. Either way, make sure they’re fortified, and shake before drinking to distribute the calcium.


  • Good news coffee lovers: A 350mlL (12 oz) latte has about a serving of milk in it!
  • Cottage cheese is unfortunately quite high in sodium. Still, it’s a protein-rich option, so if you like it, just make sure the rest of that meal is low in sodium to balance.
  • Sprinkling cheese on veggies hits two DASH foods at once.
  • If you make a smoothie, include milk, kefir (fermented milk), or yogurt.
  • Creamy Greek yogurt and Skyr (Icelandic yogurt) are excellent protein sources.
  • Plain yogurt is ideal, and you can sweeten it yourself with fruit. Another DASH double-hit.
  • A yogurt parfait can be a DASH triple hit, if you include fruit and granola.
  • Add Greek yogurt to mashed potatoes for creaminess that packs a nutrition punch.
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