The type of food we eat can affect our health generally. A diet rich in harmful elements such as saturated fat and cholesterol is a safe form of hypertension and other diseases. On the other hand, choosing the right food can reduce the risk of contracting these diseases.
There is a particular diet plan that has been proven to reduce hypertension or high blood pressure. This diet is called DASH or dietary approaches to stop hypertension.
What is DASH diet?
The DASH diet is the result of clinical studies conducted by scientists from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Researchers have, through years of studies, discovered that a diet rich in calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein and low in cholesterol could dramatically reduce hypertension.
The study proved that a diet and foods rich in vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products had a significant rate in preventing or reducing the level of hypertension in adults. Studies also showed that the DASH diet produces quick results, sometimes in just two weeks after starting the diet.
The DASH diet also highlights three essential nutrients: magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These minerals are believed to help lower high blood pressure. A regular 2,000-calorie food contains 500 milligrams of magnesium, 4.7 grams of potassium, and 1.2 grams of calcium.
Doing the DASH Diet
Following the DASH diet is very simple and takes little time to choose and prepare meals. Foods high in fat and cholesterol are avoided. The diet is recommended to eat as many vegetables, fruits, and cereals as possible.
Since the foods you eat on a DASH diet are high in fiber, we recommend that you slowly increase your intake of high-fiber foods to prevent severe stomach upset and diarrhea. As time goes on, you can steadily improve your intake of fiber by consuming an additional portion of fruit and vegetables with each meal.
Cereals are also good sources of fiber, as are vitamins and minerals B. Whole grains, whole wheat bread, and breakfast cereals that are low in fat are few of the cereals you can consume to improve your supply of fibers.
You can choose the foods you eat by looking at the labels on the processed and packaged products. Go for meals and diets that are low in fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Meats, chocolates, french fries, and fast food are the primary sources of fat and cholesterol, so you should cut down on this kind of diet.
If you have chosen to eat meat, limit your intake to just six ounces daily, which is alike in size when compared to a deck of cards. You can also consume more green vegetables, pasta, and beans in your meat dishes. Low-fat or skim milk is also an excellent main supply of protein that does not include too much fat.
Regarding snacks, you can try canned or dried fruit, as well as fresh fruit. There are also good snack choices for those on the DASH diet, such as whole wheat crackers, unsalted nuts, and low-fat yogurt.
It's Easy to DASH
The DASH diet is popular with many health enthusiasts because it does not require special foods and recipes. There are no special preparations and calorie counting to consider as long as you eat more fruits and vegetables and cut down on foods high in fat and cholesterol. Overall DASH food diet is a great, healthy, and safe eating diet plan that is concerned primarily on the three essential nutrients that are believed to have a beneficial effect on high blood pressure.
The DASH diet is excellent for people who prefer practicality and ease in their eating plans. With supporting scientific evidence, the DASH diet offers a proven dietary system for people seeking good health.
High Blood Pressure and The DASH Diet
Hypertension or hypertension is a primary risk factor for conditions such as stroke, heart attack, and kidney damage. Blood pressure (BP) is detected with a sphygmomanometer and is a measure of the force required by the heart to pump blood through the arteries to the organs and tissues of the body. It is divided into what is called systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the highest number, while diastolic blood pressure is the lowest number. The systolic measurement is recorded when the heart contracts and should be approximately 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) in a healthy adult. In comparison, the diastolic measurement is recorded when the heart relaxes and is generally located about 80 millimeters from mercury (mmHg) in a healthy patient. You will see this blood pressure reading written as 120/80.
In Australia, there are approximately three million adults with hypertension. The primary problem with this condition is that you don't feel it, so it can be present undiagnosed for many years, until it causes a severe medical emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke. In the past, hypertension was considered a condition of "old age." However, current research suggests that high blood pressure can be prevented if we lead a healthy lifestyle by following a balanced diet that reduces excess sugar and saturated fat, increases the rate of vitamins, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. Following a regular exercise or exercise program also helps keep the heart healthy, making the muscles more efficient in using oxygen and other nutrients from the blood.
Some people have a genetic predisposition, making them more likely to develop it if they had a parent with high blood pressure or a heart attack or stroke in middle age. Your chances of developing high blood pressure will increase in one or more of the following problems:
- Excess abdominal fat
- High alcohol consumption
- High salt intake
- High content of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Chronic stress
- Lack of physical activity.
- Sedentary work
A research-supported dietary approach is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. This nutritional approach includes lean meat, chicken, and fish (high in omega-3 fats) with fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, nuts, and whole grains. This diet is low in saturated fat and recommends removing excess sugar from sweets, sugary drinks, and other forms of junk food. In 1997, the New England Journal of Medicine published the first results showing success with the DASH diet. Since these first clinical results were announced, many other clinical studies have confirmed the effectiveness of using the DASH diet as a method of lowering blood pressure.
Why the DASH diet works
Nutrition experts believe that the DASH diet is effective in lowering blood pressure for the following reasons:
The diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential antioxidants.
It is a high fiber diet with an abundance of low glycemic index carbohydrates.
This type of diet is useful for people who want to lose abdominal fat.
Includes daily portions of whole grains, a variety of raw and undercooked vegetables, fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, chicken, fish, and healthy fats from nuts and seeds.