DASH Diet

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, known as the DASH diet, is based on a study which is published in 1977. DASH diet is used for both prevention and treatment of High blood pressure.
The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods that can largely reduce blood pressure.
The prevalence of hypertension has increased in many countries, which is due mainly to a rise in hypertension risk factors in the populations. Hypertension can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening arteries), stroke, heart attack, kidney problems, and other health diseases.
As I get more information about the DASH diet, we must first define blood pressure.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension or High blood pressure is blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg.
Blood pressure is usually measured in millimeters of mercury or mmHg.
Prehypertension is blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 mmHg.
If people’s blood pressure gets a place in these two ranges, they may have a greater risk of subsequent diseases. Hypertension is also known as the silent killer, as it has no symptoms. High blood pressure, along with excess body fat and obesity, are risk factors of Metabolic Syndrome.

♦ Have a family history, poor diet, and high-salted foods.
♦ Elderly, overweight and obese, sedentary active, exposed to stress, alcohol consumers, and smokers.
♦ Hypertension is disease that more common in men than in women.

What is the DASH diet?

The original DASH trial showed that the DASH dietary pattern lowered blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol levels. The studies demonstrated that the DASH plan reduced blood pressure by 6 mmHg for systolic and 3 mmHg for diastolic in cases without high blood pressure. The results were better for those with high blood pressure. The drop in systolic and diastolic was almost double at 11 mmHg and 6 mmHg, respectively. Therefore, it can prevent risks of CVD.
The DASH diet is based on 2,000 calories. But, it can be characterized and personalized with the daily calorie requirement of each person.
The first approach of the DASH diet is controlling the Sodium or Salt intake. The DASH diet recommends lowering Sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day (Standard DASH diet), and restricting sodium up to 1500 mg is much more effective (Lower Sodium DASH diet).

The daily nutrition profile for who follow the DASH diet is:
♦ 55% Carbohydrates
♦ 18% Protein
♦ 27% Fat
♦ Cholesterol : 150 mg
♦ Sodium : below 2300 mg (Goal : 1500 mg)
♦ Potassium : 4700 mg
♦ Calcium : 1250 mg
♦ Magnesium : 500 mg
♦ Fiber: 30 g

How the DASH diet works and lowers blood pressure?

DASH diet controls and lowers salt consumption intake that can have a significant effect on blood pressure decrease. Appropriate intake of fats and oils recommended in DASH can lower the biggest risk factor of heart diseases named LDL cholesterol. Excess LDL depositions in arteries lead to Cardiovascular and Coronary heart diseases. A great amount of fibers and a high intake of vegetables is the best part of the DASH diet that can lower the LDL or the bad cholesterol and saturated fatty acids.
Another point of the DASH diet is enough mineral intake that each mineral has an essential role in reducing blood pressure. For example, Calcium impacts the volume of daily urine output, and more output means lower better blood. High potassium and low sodium are having their own effects on the reduction of hypertension, too.

Dash diet food list

Grains

Grains (6 – 8 servings) provide Carbohydrates and fiber. Whole grains are rich in fiber and nutrients because the refined grains are actually grains which its bran is removed while the bran is the main source of nutrients and minerals. Thus, substituting brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole grain bread instead of respectively white rice, regular pasta, and white bread are recommended in the DASH diet.
Grains of the DASH diet also includes Buckwheat, Bulgur wheat, Pearl barley, and Couscous.


Fruits

Fruits (4 - 5 servings) provide potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
There are some exceptions; for example, people who have hypertension are on some medications that may interact with some fruits like grapefruit. Another exception is coconut that is a high-fat fruit, so it should not be continuously consumed.
Canned fruits and non-organic juices may have extra sugar, and you should pay attention to the containing of the products written on the package.
Low-fat fruit yogurt can be a healthy choice for snack meals.
Banana, Avocado, Artichokes, Watermelon, Squash, Pomegranate, Oranges, Cantaloupe, Melon, Cucumber (Avoid pickled Cucumber, which is high in Sodium), Plum juice, Grape juice, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, kiwi, Nectarines, Almonds, Honeydew, etc. are another excellent choice for eating on dash diet.


Vegetables

Vegetables ( 4 – 5 servings ) provide potassium, magnesium, vitamins, and fiber.
You can eat Spinach, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Courgettes, Bell peppers, Carrots, Garlic, Onion, Kale, Lettuce, Beets and beet greens, Potatoes, and Sweet potatoes on your DASH diet.


Low-fat dairy

Low-fat dairy (2-3 servings) are rich sources of protein, calcium, and Vitamin D.
This group include Milk, Yogurt and cheese. 


Meat and fish

Meat and fish (6 or fewer servings) provide protein and magnesium.
Chicken, Herrings, Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines, Tuna, Lean beef, and Turkey are in this group and you should eat fewer than 6 serving of them per day.


Nuts seeds and beans

Nuts seeds and beans (4 – 5 servings) provide vegetable sources of protein and magnesium and potassium.
Raisin, Pistachios, Walnuts, Cashew nuts, Dries Apricots, Hazelnuts, Chickpeas, Black beans, Black-eyed peas, Red kidney beans, Linseed, Chia seed, Flaxseed, Dry Roasted peanuts, etc.


Fats and oils

Fats and oils (2 -3 servings) provides Fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.
Saturated fats and trans fat, should be avoided because they are among the most probable CVD risk factors, like coconut oil and palm oil. Trans fats are basically in fried and fast foods. Margarine, Canola, Safflower, Corn, Olive oil.


Sugars and sweets (minimum)

Limiting Soda, Sugar added beverages and drinks, jam, and jelly. This group is high in calories.


Alcohol

Due to the guidelines, alcohol intake should be moderate and limited to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink or less per day for women. Too much alcohol consumption can increase the blood pressure itself.


Coffee

Caffeine has a short term increasing effect on blood pressure of both who have or have not hypertension. So, you should not drink more than 4 cups of coffee per day. There is a point that people who have been drinking coffee and caffeinated beverages are habituated to caffeine, so they don’t have any significant increase in their blood pressure.


DASH Diet plan

Is the DASH diet good for weight loss?

One of the important risk factors for hypertension is being overweight or obese so losing weight is vital to lower blood pressure. If you aim to lose weight, you should consider that the DASH diet cannot help you out of the way of lowering Calorie intake. Dash diet is high in organic and healthy fruits rather than processed and industrial foods. Canned foods have a lot of sodium, which uppers the blood pressure. Dash diet can help people in the long term, and you should not expect to lose weight rapidly.
Replacing the group of sugars and sweets with more fruits and vegetables can lessen the calorie intake and help the weight loss procedure besides the DASH diet plan and a continuous physical activity per week, for example, being active 30 minutes a day and at least three times a week is profitable.
Obese hypertensive subjects who lose weight fast can not succeed in maintaining weight loss. As a result, they will gain weight again, and their blood pressure will rise.

DASH diet and blood cholesterol

Cholesterol and blood pressure interact with each other, and reducing each one of them will improve the condition of hypertensive patients. Studies have shown that the DASH diet reduced LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and apolipoprotein A-I.

DASH diet and diabetes

Diabetes and blood pressure are closely linked, that people with diabetes can also develop high blood pressure. Therefore, the DASH diet can be beneficial for people with diabetes. The DASH diet provides 55% of Calories from Carbohydrates that may be too high for type 2 diabetic people. Still, the foods chosen in DASH are useful from a glycemic point of view. The Dash diet can improve insulin sensitivity, which can prevent the leading causes of diabetes and is useful for prediabetes situations.


You can read more about the diabetic diet here.

Eight important Tips for the DASH diet

♦ Low purchase of high sodium foods and eventually low sodium intake leads to decreased BP
♦ Check the Nutritional content on the package of foods you buy
♦ Putting up more variety of foods and have a colorful meal
♦ Choosing a variety of fresh vegetables
♦ Use fruits and delicious vegetables in snack meals
♦ Substituting full-fat dairy with low-fat ones
♦ Bringing flavors to your meals with herbs and seasonings instead of salt
♦ Lessen eating meals out which are unhealthy and salty

Let us know if you have any questions or comments.