Nutrition and DietDASH diet to lower high blood pressure: how it is and benefits

DASH diet to lower high blood pressure: how it is and benefits

The DASH diet is one of the best known food plans against high blood pressure, as it positively helps reduce high blood pressure. But how is?

The term DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Its creation dates back to 1997 thanks to the work carried out by a group of American scientists, and in its translation it basically means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Although it is true that the first trials date back to 1993.

We must indicate that this study was finally completed with DASH-Sodium, which had the objective of analyzing the effect that the salt included in the diet has on blood pressure.  The results were clear: the benefits were greater on hypertension when the DASH diet  was combined with a low salt intake.

Therefore, the DASH diet stands out above all not only for being an eating plan, but for being a real change in the eating style of the people who follow it.

What is the DASH diet? What does it consist of?

Under the name of DASH we find a type of diet that was specially designed for both the treatment and the reduction of high blood pressure. In fact, as its name suggests, it consists of an eating plan to “stop hypertension.”

It consists of a type of diet that is mainly characterized by being based on foods low in sodium. That is, it is a type of diet that stands out above all for being low in sodium (salt). In addition, it is very rich in nutrients, especially in nutrients that in turn help reduce hypertension, such as potassium, magnesium or calcium.

In this sense, the DASH diet reduces the amount of sodium in the diet to 2300 mg. sodium per day. While, in turn, some related studies have shown that it reduces sodium levels up to 1500 mg. a day lowers blood pressure even more.

However, it is not just one type of diet. It is also ultimately about a change and improvement in the lifestyle of the hypertensive person. We could summarize its main keys in three points:

  1. Decrease in sodium in the diet: Either reduce the amount of sodium up to 2300 mg per day, or up to 1500 mg per day if the person already suffers from high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes.
  2. Consumption of certain foods rich in nutrients: These nutrients in turn help to reduce hypertension (potassium, magnesium and calcium). For example, it is a type of diet in which the consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts (especially nuts), seeds and vegetable oils abounds. Fish, poultry, and lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy are also recommended.
  3. Practice physical exercise: It is also recommended to practice physical exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, every day of the week. The advisable thing is that the physical exercise is rather of moderate intensity.

The benefits of the DASH diet: not just for high blood pressure

The truth is that we are facing a type of diet, or change in eating style, that not only offers interesting benefits in reducing high blood pressure. And it is, in fact, a  diet low not only in sodium but also in fat , based on the consumption of natural and fresh foods, which stand out precisely for their low content of both sodium and saturated fat. Therefore, in reality, it is a type of diet that should not be defined as a nutritional treatment for high blood pressure.

And what are those cool benefits:

  • Helps reduce arterial hypertension:  Different scientific studies have found that the DASH diet, combined with physical exercise, positively helps to reduce blood pressure levels by up to 10 points. We find this quality in this diet not only because of its low sodium content, but also because it contains foods rich in nutrients that help regulate the water balance.
  • Useful against high cholesterol and high triglycerides:  It has been shown that the DASH diet also helps positively in case of hypercholesterolemia and high triglycerides, precisely because it is a type of diet that includes fresh seasonal foods, rich in fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients that help reduce high levels of fats in the blood.
  • Very interesting in case of diabetes:  If you have diabetes, this is a tremendously interesting and appropriate type of diet, since it helps to avoid and prevent many of the complications associated with this disease, including kidney disease.

DASH diet eating plan and tips for following it

The DASH diet basically consists of a few simple guidelines to follow. Here we discover how the nutritional plan of this diet is:

  • Vegetables: 4 or 5 servings each day. Especially those that are rich in potassium, fiber and magnesium.
  • Fruits: 4 or 5 servings a day. Fruits such as banana, pineapple, grapes, or peaches, among others, are recommended.
  • Chicken, fish or non-red meat: 2 or less servings per day.
  • Whole grains: 7 or 8 servings, taking into consideration that a serving is understood as half a cup of cooked cereal or a slice of bread.
  • Skimmed and low-fat dairy: 2 or 3 servings daily.
  • Nuts, legumes or seeds: 4 servings per week. They stand out: almonds, lentils, walnuts, beans, etc.
  • Fats: 2 to 3 servings daily. For example: 1 serving is considered 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
  • Sweets: less than 5 servings a week, considering that 1 serving is 1 teaspoon of sugar or, for example, 15 grams of candy.

In addition to taking into account what the DASH diet is based on and what it is like, it is necessary to know that we at home can easily follow it by adopting some simple tips and habits. The key is in:

  • Add seasonal and fresh foods, such as vegetables and fruits. An excellent option is to add salads or cooked vegetables to lunch and dinner. And the fruits add them to breakfast, snack and between meals.
  • Do not add salt to the food we prepare. And, in turn, remove the salt shaker both from the kitchen and from the table.
  • As a substitute for salt, we can choose spices or herbs, ideal for adding flavor to the food we cook and will help us to spice it up in a healthier way.

As we can see, although the DASH diet is an excellent type of diet for people with high blood pressure, or at risk of suffering from this type of pathology, the truth is that it is a type of natural diet highly recommended to enjoy good health.

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