DASH diet: What is it, benefits, and what to eat
Infamously called the "silent killer," high blood pressure (or hypertension) affects more than a billion people around the globe, and the numbers are rising. Eating a healthy diet is crucial for patients of high blood pressure. In particular, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (or simply DASH) is a diet plan designed to fight high BP. Here's all you need to know about it.
DASH diet is usually recommended to people suffering from high blood pressure. This diet plan focuses on the inclusion of more and more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. The diet became popular after researchers noticed that hypertension was much less common in people who follow a plant-based (vegetarian/vegan) diet. Further, this plan is low in salt, red meats, and added sugars, fats.
Blood pressure (systolic/diastolic) is considered to be normal at 120/80. Notably, studies suggest that the DASH diet helps lower blood pressure in healthy people as well as patients of high blood pressure. It apparently does so by significantly reducing your consumption of salt. However, do note that a fall in blood pressure does not necessarily translate to a decrease in risk of heart disease.
Apart from helping reduce hypertension, studies (although limited) suggest that this diet plan can also help you lose weight. Further, it may decrease cancer risk, metabolic syndrome, and also the risk of other health-issues like diabetes and heart disease.
When following the DASH diet, do aim for more and more whole grains, fruits and veggies, fat-free/low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese). On the other hand, try to reduce your intake of processed, oily, salty items (say goodbye to those burgers and fries), red meats, and alcohol. Also note that drastically reducing your salt consumption could bring certain health risks. Hence, go slow.
In addition to having a healthy diet, here are some other tips you should follow to keep your blood pressure in control: 1) Since being overweight is a risk factor for hypertension, try to maintain a healthy weight. 2) Exercise for around 30 minutes every day. 3) Reduce your sodium consumption. 4) Lower your stress levels. 5) Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.