The DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is designed to lower your blood pressure. Ideally, your blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mm of Hg. A slightly higher value i.e. up to 139/89 mm of Hg means you are at pre-hypertension stage, while beyond that level is dangerous as it signifies hypertension.
If your blood pressure is higher than normal, then you need to follow the DASH diet plan which entails reducing intake of sodium along with eating healthy foods.
There are two approaches to cut down sodium:
1. 2300 mg of sodium/day- This is the standard sodium intake recommended for all whose blood pressure is slightly higher. Even individuals with normal blood pressure can limit their daily intake of sodium to this predetermined value.
2. 1500 mg of sodium/day- A low sodium diet is recommended to those with extremely high blood pressure and suffering from other health complications like high cholesterol and blood sugar, and obesity, etc.
What are the salient features of DASH diet?
The diet primarily focuses on the size and number of servings to consume daily to achieve the desired results within minimum time span. Your daily calorie intake is limited to 2000-2100 calories. To meet this calorie demand you have to eat:
- More fruits and vegetables, especially rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium and fibres
- Reduce consumption of saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol rich and salt coated foods
- Increased consumption of whole grains, legumes and pulses. Fish, lean poultry, nuts and seeds are allowed
Vegetables and fruits
You can have filling servings of green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, collard green, kale, cabbage, beans, etc. Coloured vegetables like beet, carrot, bell peppers are healthy for you. For that matter, even vegetable juices of celery, parsley, etc. would help to lower blood pressure.
Your need carbohydrates for energy and therefore it should come in complex form from whole grains like whole bread, wheat pasta, bran flakes, brown rice, fortified cereals, etc.
Legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds
They are rich sources of proteins, minerals and omega-3 fats which are essential for lowering blood pressure. A handful of pulses and legumes in sprouted or cooked form is ideal, similarly you can munch on some almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds as snacks.
Lean meat, poultry, fish
You can eat lean and skinless chicken, fatty fishes like salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, etc. cooked in minimum oil or in baked/smoked form.
Low fat or fat free dairy
A small serving of milk, yogurt and cheese is allowed only when they are fat free.
Choice of cooking oil
Make sure your cooking oil is free from trans-fat. Opt for vegetable oil or rice bran or olive oil for regular use.
Note: The size and no of serving will be determined by your doctor and you have to follow accordingly. Remember, although consumption to sugar is allowed, you have to cut down refined sugar and opt for artificial sweeteners and make wise choices while buying snacks like chocolates, crackers, etc.
How effective is DASH Diet is lowering blood pressure?
Doctors have studied the DASH diet on individuals and have succeeded in proving the beneficial results. Individuals who follow the diet plan exactly as advised along with incorporation of healthy lifestyle habits have experienced reduction in blood pressure in just 2 weeks of starting the diet. So you can well reckon how efficient it is for long term improvement of your heart health.
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: may 31, 2014