Dash Diet & Heart Health: Healthy Eating To Lower Your Blood Pressure

Oct 2019

5 mins read

DASH standing for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a diet plan approach to treat hypertension and prevent high blood pressure. DASH diet is a flexible plan which helps you follow a balanced eating routine with no special food requirements. It incorporates regular food to complete daily and weekly nutritional needs. US News and World Report sanctioned DASH diet to be the best way to combat low blood pressure as compared to any other anti-hypertension medication. The diet primarily includes plenty of green and leafy vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, vegetable oil, nuts and seeds, proteins. It also aims to reduce sodium intake to only 1,500-2,500 mg a day. Additionally, there are two types of DASH diet plans:

  1. The standard DASH diet: This diet allows sodium consumption of 2,300 milligrams per day.
  2. The lower sodium DASH diet: This diet allows sodium consumption of 1,500 milligrams per day.

DASH Diet Plan– Mentioned below is the dash diet food list along with the serving size to help you plan your routine better. 

  • Grains
  1. 6 to 8 servings per day.
  2. Grains will include bread, pasta, rice, and cereal. It is recommended to focus more on whole grains as they have more fiber content and nutrients as compared to refined grains. One serving of grain, for example, can include a slice of bread, a small cup of cereal, or ½ a cup of rice or pasta.
  • Vegetables
  1. 5 to 6 servings per day.
  2. Eat vegetables which are high in fibers, minerals, and nutrients like tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, peas, sweet potatoes, etc. You can have them as salads or as main dishes as well, along with some rice or wheat noodles. Do not buy canned vegetables as they have high sodium content.

3. Fats and Oils 

  • 2 to 3 servings a day.
  • Too much fat and oil can increase the cholesterol level and the risk of heart diseases, obesity, and diabetes. DASH diet aims to consume only 30% daily calories from fat and oil. Incorporate monosaturated fats into your diet which are healthier and avoid fried and bakery items. It can be helpful to read the food label before buying the item to know the fat content.

4. Dairy

  • 2 to 3 servings a day.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products to complete the requirement of calcium, vitamin D and protein. One serving can include 1 cup low fat skimmed milk, 1 cup low-fat yogurt, or ½ a cup of low-fat cottage cheese.

5. Nuts, Legumes, and Seeds 

  • 4 to 5 servings per week.
  • They are high in calories, hence it is recommended to consume them only a few times a week. You can eat almonds, kidney beans, peas, lentils, sunflower seeds, etc. as they are also rich in magnesium, potassium, and protein. You can eat them directly or add them to vegetables or salads.

6. Fish, poultry, and meat

  • 6 one-ounce servings or less in a day.
  • Cutting back on meat and fish will allow you to focus more on green vegetables. One serving can include 1 egg in any form or 1 ounce of cook meat or fish. It is advisable to remove the skin from the meat or poultry before eating to moderate fat intake. Also, try to consume fishes like salmon, tuna, and herring as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acid which is beneficial for the heart.

7. Sweets 

  • 5 or fewer servings a week.
  • Sugar has no nutritional value and adds to the calorie intake. It is difficult to leave them altogether, but it is highly advisable to regulate their intake. Have sugar less than five times a week and only in small portions. One serving can include 1 tablespoon sugar or jam, ½ cup custard or sorbet, or 1 cup lemonade. You can also try fat-free or low-fat sorbets, fruit jellies, candies, or cookies.

Extra Tips for DASH Diet 

  1. To avoid using salt as seasoning try using other seasoning mixtures like garlic, basil, oregano, anise seed, dry lemon rind, etc. You can use these separately or even mix them together and store in a container for easy usage.
  2. Purchase fruits and vegetables with strong and dark colors. They tend to have more nutrients and vitamins.
  3. Finalize the portion and serving size before beginning to eat to avoid overeating.
  4. Cook food in olive or canola oil as they control cholesterol and have many health benefits.
  5. Snack regularly. Do not eat everything in one sitting but eat moderate amounts at regular intervals.
  6. Always keep your DASH diet in mind shopping. Buy fresh products as they contain less sodium and sugar. Don’t forget to read the labels before purchasing to figure out how the item fits into your diet. Compare the items and go for the once that have fewer calories.
  7. Look for DASH diet recipes online to have variety in your everyday meals.
  8. Choose the right cooking utensils. Nonstick pans utilize less oil and butter, which will automatically moderate your intake. You can also use vegetable steamers to easily prepare your vegetables without losing their nutritional value.
  9. Make a list at the start of the week deciding what meals you will take. With a list, it is less likely to be tempted by unhealthy food and skip the diet chart.
  10. Indulge in moderate physical activity for about 35-40 minutes to keep your body and muscles healthy and to maintain good blood circulation and combat obesity.
  11. Do not drink too much alcohol. Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure and risk heart problems. In DASH diet, limit your alcohol intake by having only 4-5 drinks per week for men and 2-3 for women.

Other Potential Benefits of DASH Diet

The DASH diet was originally developed to combat high blood pressure, but it has also proved to be very beneficial for weight loss as it cuts down high fat and sugary food. The DASH diet meal plan makes you shed the extra weight easily along with keeping you healthy which can make you feel lighter and younger. It is also very helpful for people who have metabolic syndromes, PCOS postmenopausal and pregnancy weight gain, type 2 diabetes, etc. Additionally, DASH diet also has other health benefits like decreasing cancer risk, lowering metabolic syndrome risk, and also lowering diabetes risk.

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