Hypertension is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Many public health efforts to reduce the prevalence of hypertension are underplayed, and some of them focus on non-pharmacological approaches (lifestyle modifications) that lower blood pressure. One such approach is to follow the DASH diet to manage hypertension.
What Is The DASH Diet?
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The National Institute of Health (NIH) developed this diet. Nutritionists recommend this diet to those who are suffering from hypertension. The diet helps lower blood pressure in persons with high blood pressure, i.e., ≥ 140/90 mmHg, and promotes heart health.
The DASH diet is plentiful in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products with a reduced amount of saturated and total fat. Researchers have found a decrease in systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 6-11 mmHg by following the DASH Diet. Also, by combining the DASH diet to manage hypertension with a low sodium diet, it improved blood pressure.
Health Benefits Of The DASH Diet
Doctors recommend the DASH diet to manage hypertension. Studies conducted worldwide suggest that the DASH diet can help shed weight, manage blood glucose levels, improve HDL levels, and reduce LDL levels. In doing so, the DASH diet reduces the risk for several other chronic conditions, such as heart diseases, diabetes mellitus, cancer, and stroke.
What Does The DASH Diet Incorporate?
The DASH diet includes consumption of vegetables and fruits, lean meat and dairy products, and micronutrients in the diet. It also recommends the reduction of sodium in the diet to about 1500 mg/day. The DASH diet emphasizes avoiding processed and packaged food products. The DASH diet targets some of the leading killers of modern society.
In the DASH Diet, specific servings of different food groups are recommended. The number of servings that one includes in the diet depends on how many calories the person consumes.
Various studies have found that the blood-pressure-lowering effects are even more remarkable when one combines the low sodium diet with the DASH diet to manage hypertension. Sodium restriction is effective in controlling mild to moderate hypertension. Therefore, some measures of sodium control are recommended for hypertensive patients.
It has been recommended to reduce dietary sodium intake to no more than 100 mmol per day, i.e., 2.4 g sodium or 6 g of sodium chloride (table salt).
Below is an example of food portions based on a 2,000-calorie diet: –
|Grains and products||6-8||1 slice of bread, 3 tbsp dry cereal, 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or grain (preferably whole grain)|
|Vegetables||4-5||1 cup (250 ml) raw leafy greens, 1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped raw or cooked vegetables, 1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable juice|
|Fruits||4-5||1 medium fruit, 1/4 cup (60 g) dried fruit, 1/2 cup (125 ml), 100% fruit juice|
|Fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products||2-3||1 cup (250 ml) milk or 1 cup (250 g) yogurt|
|Lean meat, poultry, and fish||2 or less||40 g (2-3 pieces) cooked lean meat, skinless poultry, or fish, egg – 1 medium size (50 g)/3 tbsp of pulses|
|Nuts, seeds, and legumes||4-5 per week||7-8 count of dry fruits, 3 tbsp of legumes|
|Fat and oils||2-3||1 teaspoon (5 ml) vegetable oil|
|Sugar||5 or less per week||1 teaspoon (5 g) sugar|
|Table salt||–||1¼ teaspoon (6 g) salt|
Foods Included In The DASH Diet
- Whole grains, such as whole wheat, oatmeal, millets, pulses, and legumes (a significant source of energy and fiber)
- Fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, peas, beans, carrots, broccoli, oranges, bananas, dates, mangoes (an essential source of potassium, magnesium, and fiber)
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products like skimmed milk, low-fat buttermilk, etc. (a significant source of calcium and protein)
- Lean meat or fish
- Vegetable oils, such as olive oil, corn oil, canola oil, and safflower oil
Foods That Are Avoided In The DASH Diet
- Packaged/canned foods, such as chips, biscuits, crackers, muffins, etc.
- Saturated and trans fats like butter, margarine, lard, ghee, and hydrogenated vegetable oil
- High-sodium content foods like salted nuts, chips, bacon, sausages, etc.
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
Tips To Reduce Excessive Salt Use In Diet
- By avoiding excessive intake of salt in cooking
- Increasing intake of foods low in salt (e.g., fruits and vegetables)
- Avoiding foods high in salt (pre-prepared/processed foods)
- Refraining from adding salt at the table
- By increasing awareness of the salt content of food choices in restaurants
- By promoting traditional food rather than Western or fast food and junk foods high in salt and calories, sugar, and fat content
Read Also: 5 Healthy Dash Diet Recipes For Hypertension