DASH diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a healthy eating plan recommended for individuals who want to treat high blood pressure ( hypertension ). However, it also helps to control other diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, etc.
The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains. It is rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The DASH food plan is low in sugar, salt, and fat. The DASH diet program recommends no more than 1 teaspoon ( 2,300 mg ) of sodium per day.
What is the DASH eating plan recommended for?
The DASH diet can be followed by individuals at risk of hypertension and heart disease. Its health benefits range from lowering blood sugar, and cholesterol levels and improving bone health. As recommended by the Institute of Medicine, it includes nutrient-rich foods which meet the nutrient requirements.
Benefits of the DASH diet
Improves heart health
It helps to reduce blood pressure levels but also helps in lowering triglycerides, cholesterol levels, and inflammation which are all risk factors for heart disorders.
The heart-healthy effects come from consuming plant-based foods which include fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. In one review of women, the DASH food plan was linked with a 20% reduced risk of heart disease. The DASH plan recommends getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day which can contribute another layer of protection for your heart.
Reduces blood pressure
A low-salt DASH eating plan lowered blood pressure by reducing systolic blood pressure by an average of 12 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg in individuals having high blood pressure. It also lowered systolic blood pressure by 4 mmHg and diastolic pressure by 2 mmHg in individuals with normal blood pressure. The DASH eating plan highlights eating potassium from food to keep blood pressure healthy. A potassium-rich diet may help to lower elevated blood pressure. Some milk products, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of potassium. For more information on blood pressure, read our article " 12 powerful ways to lower high blood pressure."
Helps with weight loss
DASH diet is a healthy food plan which promotes the intake of whole foods and reduces unhealthy fats and sugar which help to lower and maintain weight. Losing weight helps in lowering blood pressure. The essential factors include portion size, eating a wide variety of healthy balanced foods, and getting the correct balance of nutrients. These guidelines can help in managing your weight successfully. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute ( NHLBI ) suggests lowering calories gradually.
Improves bone health
The DASH diet can help in preventing osteoporosis ( a condition where bones become weak and brittle ) and help in maintaining your overall bone strength. The calcium intake suggested as part of the food plan plays an essential role in improving bone health.
Lowers cancer risk
The DASH diet helps to reduce some cancers such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
DASH diet tips to adopt according to Medical News Today
Add four servings of vegetables every day. Vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables can be added to your diet
While choosing dairy products, choose low-fat milk products to lower the intake of saturated fats, cholesterol, and calories
Use fresh, frozen, or low-sodium vegetables and fruits
Nuts, and legumes such as beans, lentils, and almonds can be eaten four times a week
Choose monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados, etc., and avoid saturated and trans fats such as bakery products.
How to reduce salt while eating out?
Try to limit condiments such as ketchup, pickles, sauces, etc. Use herbs, spices, garlic, lemon, etc.
Limit foods containing MSG ( monosodium glutamate ), added salt, etc.
Picked, cured, soy sauce, and broth are all the terms indicating high sodium content
The DASH eating plan along with other lifestyle modifications can help you manage your blood pressure. Lifestyle recommendations such as achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and drinking alcohol in moderation are some strategies that can help reduce blood pressure.