The number of people suffering from high blood pressure crossed 1 billion—and keeps rising with every passing year. Our lifestyles and diets get unhealthier as time passes and the pandemic has made it even more difficult by forcing us indoors. What Is The DASH Diet? Keep reading this article and find out!
High blood pressure is linked to many other serious health issues like kidney failure, cardiovascular problems and stroke.
This is why researchers and policymakers came together to combat this problem. The DASH diet is a scientifically-backed dietary strategy to help fight and prevent high blood pressure.
What Is The DASH Diet? A Beginner’s Guide
DASH refers to a Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, a special diet for people who want to fight or prevent high blood pressure. It also reduces your risk of heart problems.
It is based on the observation that people who consume plant-based meals on a regular basis, like vegetarians and vegans, face fewer instances of high blood pressure or heart disease.
The DASH diet is focused on including more vegetables and fruits, lean meats and whole grains in your daily diet.
People who follow the DASH diet consume higher amounts of potassium, which is good for the heart and lower amounts of sodium, which is good for your heart and helps lower blood pressure.
Benefits Of DASH Diet
While the DASH diet was designed to help people lower their blood pressure, it has a number of other health benefits.
It focuses on heart-healthy foods that are high in fiber and essential nutrients. The recommended sodium intake on a DASH diet is no more than 1 teaspoon or 2300 mg.
Medical professionals believe that reduced sodium intake is the main reason it benefits people with high blood pressure. Here are all the health benefits associated with the DASH diet:
Helps Lower Blood Pressure
Blood pressure measures the force experienced by your blood vessels as blood passes through your body. There are 2 figures used to measure blood pressure—systolic and diastolic pressure.
Systolic pressure is the pressure faced by your blood vessels on every beat of your heart whereas diastolic pressure is the pressure faced by your blood vessels in between heartbeats.
120/80 is considered a healthy blood pressure, i.e. 120 mmHg systolic pressure and 80 mmHg diastolic pressure. Anything above 140/90 is considered high blood pressure and poses numerous risks.
Studies found that the DASH diet lowers blood pressure in people with high blood pressure as well as people with normal blood pressure.
People who didn’t lower their sodium intake still lowered their blood pressure effectively, while people who did lower sodium intake experienced a bigger reduction in blood pressure.
May Help You Lose Weight
The DASH diet has also helped many people lose weight. While it is not a guaranteed effect of the diet, it has helped many people lose weight because it reduces your intake of high fat and high-sugar foods.
People with high blood pressure are often advised to lose weight, as studies suggest that reducing your weight could help lower your blood pressure too.
The best part of the DASH diet is that it doesn’t require any fancy, expensive ingredients and doesn’t require you to starve yourself. It is flexible, easy to follow and you can get everything you need from your local grocery store.
If you are aiming to lose weight by following the DASH diet, you will need to create a calorie deficit—spend more calories than you consume in a day.
Other Health Benefits
Here are a few other health benefits of going on the DASH diet:
- The DASH diet reduces the risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer and some other cancers. Studies found that the high amount of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants in the diet helped lower the risk of various types of cancer.
- It also reduces your risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition that raises the risk of diabetes, by up to 81%.
- The DASH diet is also associated with a lower risk of diabetes, improved insulin resistance and lower risk of heart disease and stroke in women.
What Does The Dash Diet Consist Of?
There are no specific foods you need to eat on the DASH diet, it is very flexible. Instead, it recommends the serving size of different food groups, which can be chosen based on availability, location and culture.
Here is a basic breakdown of the DASH diet on a 2,000 calorie diet:
- What You Should Eat: You need to eat 6-8 servings of whole grains, 4-5 servings each of vegetables (including 1 serving of leafy greens) and fruits. You can eat apples, pears, berries or seasonal fruits. Dried or canned fruits are also acceptable. You can eat 2-3 servings of dairy products, but they need to be low-fat versions. Fats and oils should form the smallest part of your diet with 2-3 servings per day. Candy and added sugar products must be limited to fewer than 5 servings per week.
- What You Should Avoid: The DASH diet recommends that you reduce the consumption of foods that can increase the risk of blood pressure. This includes red meats, full-fat dairy, high-sugar foods like candy and desserts and high sugar drinks like soda. You don’t need to eliminate them completely, but they should form a very small part of your diet if you want to lower your blood pressure.
- How To Reduce Sodium Intake: Reducing sodium intake is a key aspect of the DASH diet. You can reduce your sodium intake by reducing the intake of sauces and condiments with your meals, avoiding pickled or cured food, having fruits and vegetables instead of chips and fries and cutting out soy sauce.
The DASH diet is a great non-invasive way to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of many life-threatening conditions. It has many associated health benefits like weight loss and reduced risk of certain kinds of cancers and stroke.
It is one of the easiest diets to follow because it doesn’t restrict your intake of any foods. You just have to follow the recommended servings of food groups. People can pick anything they want within those food groups.
If you are looking for an easy, flexible diet that helps you lower your risk of hypertension, the DASH diet is the perfect choice for you.