The DASH diet lowers blood pressure and helps a healthy heart

The DASH diet lowers blood pressure and helps a healthy heart

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Salads are among the foods recommended on the DASH diet. 10’000 hours / Getty Images
  • Experts say the DASH diet can help people with stage 1 hypertension lower their blood pressure.
  • The DASH diet is a daily nutritional plan that includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats.
  • Experts say people starting the DASH diet should make slow changes while adjusting their daily eating habits.
  • They recommend checking food labels to see how much salt and sugar they contain.

Changing your diet can have the most important effect on lowering high blood pressure.

This is according to New simulation study that used the latest evidence from clinical trials and meta-analyses about the effects of lifestyle changes on stage 1 hypertension.

Stage 1 high blood pressure is usually treated with lifestyle changes rather than medication.

The results of the research will be presented this weekend at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions on Hypertension 2022.

The researchers’ findings suggest that switching to the DASH diet may provide the greatest benefit for lowering high blood pressure than other lifestyle changes. In addition, they estimated that following the DASH diet may prevent 15,000 cases of heart disease such as heart attack and stroke among men and 11,000 such cases among women.

Other lifestyle changes examined included common complementary treatments for high blood pressure such as increasing physical activity, maintaining weight loss (if needed), and moderating alcohol consumption.

Overall, the researchers said, lifestyle changes to lower systolic blood pressure below 130 mm Hg could prevent 26,000 heart attacks and strokes and reduce healthcare costs over the next 10 years.

The study has not yet been reviewed or published.

The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

It is considered a dietary pattern directed toward lowering or maintaining healthy blood pressure. it’s a supported By the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as a means of preventing and managing high blood pressure.

The food groups on the DASH diet include:

  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • all grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Lean meat, poultry and fish
  • Nuts, seeds and beans
  • Heart-healthy oils and fats

The DASH diet also recommends limiting or avoiding red meat, foods high in sodium and added sugars, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Amy GuerinMS, RDN, a holistic vegan dietitian in Stamford, Connecticut, and owner of “Plant Based with Amy,” says the research that the DASH diet actually helps with heart health and reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Amy BraganiniD., MS, RD, CSO, a dietitian oncologist at Trinity Health Lacks Cancer Center in Michigan and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says the DASH diet was one of the first things she learned in her initial training 20 years ago and the diet is still going strong today.

However, while the health benefits are plentiful, Braganini says she finds it can be difficult for people to make the switch.

Nutritionists say it’s best to make small changes and avoid trying to completely change your diet overnight.

Instead, try the following steps for a more sustainable shift toward healthy eating.

take stock

The first step she recommends, Bragagnini says, is to take an honest inventory of what you eat and drink each day.

Try to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Approximately how many servings of fruits and vegetables do I eat per day?
  • How Much Total Sodium Do I Consume?
  • How many times do I eat red meat per week?
  • How many grams of added sugar do I eat each day?

Check food labels

Check food labels over the course of a few days, Bragnini suggests.

This will help you get a fair idea of ​​how much sodium and added sugar you are consuming.

“Now he’s familiar with the recommendations,” she told Healthline. For someone who doesn’t have high blood pressure, the American Heart Association and suggest You limit your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg per day. them too We recommend You limit your added sugar intake to 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men.”

Watch out for ‘added’ salt and sugar

“As you check food labels, be sure to consider how much actual salt and sugar you use in your cooking and meal prep,” says Braganini.

Examples of how quickly they accumulate, Braganini says, include:

  • 2300 mg sodium in 1 teaspoon salt
  • Approximately 2,000 mg in one serving of chips
  • Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 mg of sodium in one soup can

In addition to salt, many people add sugar to their coffee (1 teaspoon = 4 grams) and may add it to their oatmeal. All of this is important,” she says.

Start with small changes

“Now that you have an idea of ​​how much (salt or added sugar) you’re actually consuming, start making small changes,” Braganini says.

You don’t have to make sweeping diet changes overnight, so start slowly.”

Gorin suggests incorporating a fruit or vegetable at every eating occasion.

She adds that making these changes does not mean eating flavorless food.

“There are a lot of spices you can use in your cooking,” Gorin told Healthline. They include garlic, onion powder, rosemary, dried oregano, basil, paprika, and red pepper flakes. You will be amazed at how much flavor these spices add to your meals.”

Bragagnini’s suggestions for spicing things up include:

  • Marinate chicken with rosemary and thyme
  • Use lemon on fish to enhance the flavors
  • Skip the sugar and add cinnamon/cloves in your oatmeal instead
  • Try to find products with the American Heart Association “heart” symbol

Evaluate your meat consumption

Dietitians often encourage customers to reduce their intake of red meat and processed meat.

That’s because eating a lot of these foods can increase your risk of heart disease and cancer, Braganini explains.

“Again, take a inventory of how often you consume these foods,” she says. “If you find that you eat red or processed meat five days a week, reduce it to three times a week to start.”

Braganini’s tips for cutting down on red meat include:

  • Discover recipes for dishes including chicken, turkey, fish or vegetarian
  • Skip the traditional hamburger and try the turkey or chicken burger
  • Try adding vegetable crumbs instead of red meat when making tacos
  • Skip the meat when making the chili. You probably won’t miss it even if you add a variety of beans, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, celery, and onions. And don’t forget to add some deep flavor with cumin, paprika, and chili powder.

Give yourself time to adapt

Be calm yourself and remember to be patient.

“It will take some time to acclimate to your tastes away from sugar and salt but with patience and planning [American Heart Association] The goals are achievable. Try different spices and flavors other than salt when cooking,” Braganini says.

Upgrade your choice of snacks

“Finally, improve your snack choices,” Braganini says.

Choosing snacks wisely can help you reach your fruit and vegetable goals and also help you follow the DASH diet recommendations, she says.

Bragagnini’s best snack options that you can try include:

  • Unsalted nuts (provide good sources of protein, fiber, and healthy fats)
  • Fruits and vegetables to increase your overall intake
  • Sweet pepper slices dipped in hummus
  • Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries for the afternoon
  • Crispy zucchini slices prepared in the air fryer

“A big part of the reason dieting often doesn’t work is because people feel they have to give up everything they love,” Goren said. “Don’t give up all the foods you love.”

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