One of the more popular healthy eating plans is the DASH diet. “DASH” is the catchy acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Researchers have proven that this type of eating plan can reduce the risk of getting high blood pressure, and can effectively reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.
The DASH diet started out as a scientific study to test how nutrients in food can affect blood pressure. The study found that by having a diet which focused on vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy foods, and legumes, that lower blood pressure could be achieved. This eating plan also encourages eating fish, nuts, poultry, whole grains, and a limited amount of red meats, fats, and sweets. Also, portion control is recommended.
Another scientific study, called the “Lower Sodium DASH Diet” eating plan, analyzed how a reduction in sodium (1500 mg of sodium per day) affected blood pressure for those on the Standard DASH diet (2300 mg of sodium per day) and for those on the typical American diet (3500 mg average sodium per day). The study indicated that blood pressure did get lower with a decreased sodium intake for both groups. Those eating the normal American diet as well as those people following the Standard DASH diet. However, those who were following the Lower Sodium DASH diet which had the greatest sodium reduction showed the largest decrease in blood pressure. This study proves that whatever food plan you follow, lowering your salt and sodium intake is important.
Note: One of the best ways to lower your sodium intake is by eliminating salt. Don’t use the salt shaker at the table and don’t salt the food when you are cooking. Start using salt free seasonings and a salt substitute.
Below are some tips to get you started on this healthy eating plan:
- If your current diet only consists of a couple of vegetables each day, start off my adding another serving at lunch and at dinner.
- Add fruit to you meals or have some as a snack if you do not currently have fruit in your diet.
- Cut back to half of the salad dressing, margarine, or butter you now use. Start using fat free salad dressings and other condiments.
- Slowly increase your dairy intake to three servings per day. To accomplish this you could substitute milk for soda, alcohol, or tea. Choose fat free or low fat dairy products in order to reduce the amount of fat in your diet.
- Do not purchase as much meat as you have in the past. If you don’t have it in the fridge then you will not eat it. Reduce meats to two servings per day (about six ounces), this is all your body needs. A deck of cards is about the same size as four ounces of meat. If large portions of meat are in your current diet, start by gradually cutting back by a third. Begin making pasta dishes, stir fries, casseroles, or any recipe that has less meat and has a focus on beans, grains, and vegetables.
The DASH diet which you have learned is focused on whole grains, non fat and low fat dairy, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes/beans. It was developed in a clinical setting and is not a fad diet. Easy to follow, proven to lower blood pressure, and reduces the risks of heart disease. No other diet has the amount of supported medical data. This is a simple eating plan that can be easily adapted into anyone’s lifestyle. Start today with small changes for lower blood pressure and a more healthy heart.