Tired of your high blood pressure and all the other added risks attached to it? You may find relief with the DASH diet, which lowers cholesterol and helps you lose weight, too.
According to a report by the Harvard School of Public Health, a plant-rich diet is ideal to lower high levels of blood pressure. The
DASH diet stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension and works on similar patterns. A blood pressure that stays slightly above 120/80 mmHg is also unhealthy. This is because the higher your blood pressure rises, more are the health risks associated with it. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) supported scientists to carry out two studies to reveal the benefits of the DASH diet.
In the first study, these scientists found that an eating plan that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol and incorporates more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish and nuts showed a remarkable decrease in the blood pressure levels of patients. Known as the DASH diet, it is rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium and protein while being low on added sugars and excessive sodium. So participants who were on the DASH diet showed much lower blood pressure levels as compared to participants who stayed on their regular diet and just added more fruits and vegetables to their diet.
The second study aimed to reveal the connection between reduced sodium intake and blood pressure levels. While one group just followed their normal diet with reduced sodium intake, the other group was put on the DASH diet with reduced sodium intake. As expected, the group on the DASH diet showed remarkably lowered blood pressures within weeks.
Together, these two studies revealed that the DASH diet is the true winner when you want to get rid of hypertension and the health risks associated with it.
DASH diet whatttttt?
The DASH diet is a heart-healthy diet that limits the intake of saturated fats and cholesterol and focuses more on incorporating nutrient-rich foods that naturally lower blood pressure levels. These are potassium, magnesium, calcium along with added protein and fibre.
The DASH diet along with few lifestyle changes like regular exercising and a disciplined routine can prevent high blood pressure. In fact, if your blood pressure is not too high, just being on the DASH diet is all you need to bring it back to normal. The DASH diet will help you lose weight, lower the bad cholesterol level or the LDL in your body and reduce risks of heart diseases. It includes daily servings from certain food groups, the amounts of which will depend on your age, sex, weight, blood pressure levels and exertion levels.
A typical day menu for those on DASH diet
For most people, just lowering sodium levels in your food will not control blood pressure levels. And this is why the DASH diet becomes so important. Let’s see what a day on the DASH diet looks like:
Keep in mind that the serving size for cooked food is half a cup and one full cup for raw fruits and vegetables. Any more than that and you’ll be over indulging. You will need:
• Servings of grain – 8. These need to be whole grains, not flour, and definitely not refined flours. Oats, barley, rye and wheat are all good options.
• Servings of vegetables – 5. Preferably five different vegetables, all offering different nutrients. You already know that to lower blood pressure levels you need to increase consumption of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Spinach, tomatoes, beans and capsicums are all good options.
• Servings of fruits – 5. You should try and eat five different fruits every day. Try eating bananas, apples, pears, berries, melons and avocados.
• Servings of dairy – 2 to 3. You should have low-fat dairy items like skimmed milk, reduced fat cheese and low-fat yoghurts.
• Servings of nuts and seeds – 5. Try and add 1-2 tablespoons of nuts to your salad and have that for lunch. Not only will you get your daily requirement of nuts, you’ll also be able to incorporate more vegetables and fruits in your diet.
• Servings of meat – 1 to 2. You should try and eat chicken and fish, though lean cuts of red meats can also be eaten. For best results, avoid meat of any mammals and stick to fish and chicken.
• Servings of fat – 3 tablespoons of olive oil or canola oil. Try and steer clear of all other fats and sweets.
• Exercise is a must to accompany the DASH diet for best results.
Bear in mind that though the DASH diet is an excellent way to reduce blood sugar levels, the added fiber in your diet from raw fruits and vegetables can give you diarrhoea or bloating. To avoid that, increase your intake of fiber-rich food gradually and you’ll soon find that you will not just be rid of hypertension soon, but also have a fabulous body!