DASH to Lower Blood Pressure

The DASH diet is a healthy eating plan that promises to lower blood pressure in just 14 days. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and it has been endorsed by the American Heart Association, The Mayo Clinic, and the The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, to name a few.

About Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Hypertension is known as "The Silent Killer" because it can go undetected for years. 

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension- the DASH Diet

Hypertension is associated with a high sodium intake and excess body fat. Healthy levels of potassium, magnesium, and calcium have protective roles on blood pressure. These principles are the guidelines for the DASH diet. 

The DASH diet has been shown to be effective for the prevention and management of hypertension. The DASH plan is rich in frutis, vegetables, and whole grains. It focuses on consuming low-fat and fat-free dairy products, along with nuts, seeds, dry beans, and limited amounts of lean meats, poultry and fish.

This eating plan is lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat, and higher in potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and protein than the standard American diet. 

What do I Eat on the DASH Diet? 

Whole grains are higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than refined grains. 6-8 servings a day of whole grains. 

Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of dietary fiber, potassium, and magnesium. The DASH diet encourages fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, rather than canned, which can have too much sodium. 4 -5 servings a day EACH of fruits and vegetables. 

Fat-free or Low-fat dairy products are an excellent source of calcium and protein, as well as potassium and magnesium. For lactose sensitive individuals, lactase enzyme drops and pills can ease digestion of dairy products. 2 -3 servings per day. 

Lean meat proteins bring protein and magnesium to the DASH diet. Red meat can be included,but in limited amounts and lean cuts. Processes meats are high in sodium and should be avoided. 6 or less servings per day. 

Nuts, seeds, and legumes bring magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber to the DASH diet. Legumes like dry (not canned) beans, peas, lentils and peanuts can be eaten. Be sure to select un-salted nuts and seeds, and pay close attention to portion sizes. 4- 5 servings per week. 

Fat is good, particularly when it comes from good sources such as olive oil or avocados. With the DASH plan, be sure that fat intake remains around 27% of total calorie intake. Too much fat can lead to unwanted weight gain and increase the risk for hypertension and other health conditions. 2 -3 servings a day 

Sweets are not completely outlawed on the DASH diet, but you should choose fat-free, low-fat treats like sorbets, low-fat cookies, or graham crackers. 5 or fewer a week. 

The DASH diet recommends that alcoholic beverages be limited, as alcohol can increase blood pressure. 

For best benefit, 1500 mg of sodium or less a day should be consumed to lower the risk of hypertension and to lower blood pressure. 

Want to know more about the DASH diet? 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Mayo Clinic  

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