The DASH diet was designed to fight high blood pressure and reduce people’s risk of heart disease and stroke.

Almost half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have high blood pressure or Hypertension, and many are unaware of their condition. It is estimated that high blood pressure affects more than a billion people worldwide. 

If left untreated, high blood pressure can be dangerous. Uncontrolled Hypertension is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the first and fifth leading causes of death in the United States.

A considerable amount of evidence reveals diet as a major factor in the development of high blood pressure. Changes in diet can prevent the development of Hypertension, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension-related complications.

Further, scientists and policymakers have come up with dietary strategies for the prevention and control of Hypertension. The strategies include:

  • Reducing sodium intake.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption.
  • Increasing potassium intake.
  • Adopting an inclusive dietary pattern called the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

What Is the DASH Diet?

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a carefully formulated healthy-eating diet plan designed to help prevent and treat Hypertension and reduce their risk of heart disease.

The DASH diet primarily consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats and restricts foods high in saturated fats, sodium, processed meat, and added sugars. It comprises foods that are rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These nutrients are beneficial in controlling high blood pressure. 

Researchers formulated the diet after observing that people following a plant-based diet had better blood pressure control. Consequently, the DASH diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables while incorporating some lean protein sources like chicken, fish, and beans. The diet restricts salt, red meat, added sugars, and fat.

One of the primary reasons people with high blood pressure can benefit from this diet is because it decreases salt intake.

Benefits of the Dash Diet

The DASH diet offers several potential benefits, including weight loss and reduced cancer risk, lower cholesterol, and managing or preventing diabetes beyond lowering blood pressure.

How do I build a DASH eating plan? 

The DASH diet requires no exceptional foods and has no hard-to-follow recipes. It merely calls for a certain number of daily servings from different food groups. The number of servings and portion size depends on the number of calories your body requires each day. Your calorie level depends on factors such as your age and activity level. Choose and prepare foods with less sodium and salt; try herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar, wine, and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking.

When following DASH, it is essential to choose foods that are:

  • Rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and protein
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Low in sodium

 Click here to learn more about the Dash.

Will I lose weight with the DASH diet?

Remember that DASH was not designed for weight loss but to lower blood pressure. So don’t expect DASH to help you lose weight on its own; weight loss may just be an added advantage for some.

Some things you can do to lose weight on DASH include:

  • Have small portions often during the day
  • Increase servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and reduce meat
  • Combine DASH with regular physical activity such as walking or swimming to help you shed pounds.

If you want to maintain your current weight, you should take in only as many calories as you burn by staying physically active. If you’re looking to lose weight while also lowering your blood sugar levels, consider a medical weight loss plan that suits your requirements.

Remember, you don’t need to make radical changes to your diet to improve your health; in most cases, small, sustainable changes are far more efficient in the long run. Consult with us at DrNewMed to learn more about how you can make the best lifestyle changes for your overall wellbeing.