More than a billion people worldwide are affected by high blood pressure. Half of the men over 18 years of age and 38% of the women suffer from hypertension. It is a serious health problem since high blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke.
Diet is probably the most important factor in developing high blood pressure and a sedentary lifestyle. That is why it is logical that therapeutic diets have got designed to reduce blood pressure values.
One of these diets is DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It was developed in 1991 at the initiative of the health authorities of the United States and has established itself as an effective diet to reduce tension and be healthy in general.
How DASH Diet Reduce High Blood Pressure?
DASH diet objective is to reduce high blood pressure and the force blood vessels resist when blood passes through them.
The pressure is measured in two values expressing diastolic and systolic pressures. The first occurs between one beat and another of the heart when resting. The second is when the heartbeat occurs.
For adults, normal blood pressure is a systolic pressure below 120 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) and a diastolic pressure below 80 mmHg. People with a blood pressure reading greater than 140/90 have high blood pressure.
The DASH diet manages to reduce high blood pressure in both healthy people and people with high blood pressure.
In addition, the characteristics of the diet (low in fat and added sugars) can help lose weight. However, this is not its main objective. However, losing weight is a recommendation for people with hypertension and overweight or obesity, as there is a relationship between weight and tension.
According to a published study, the DASH diet also reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancers, such as colorectal and breast cancer.
It also lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Many of these benefits can get attributed to the diet’s high fruit and vegetable content.
DASH Diet Ingredients
DASH diet is based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and lean white meats, but there are variations, such as vegetarian DASH. The researchers who designed it considered hypertension much less common in people who follow a plant-based diet, such as vegetarians and vegans.
The DASH diet is low in red meat, added sugars, and fat and recommends consuming only a teaspoon of salt per day (1.5-2.5 g).
A certain number of servings of each food is recommended, which can vary depending on the number of calories needed. In a 2,000-calorie diet, the portions would be as follows:
- 6-8 daily servings of whole grains (examples of a serving are one slice of whole wheat bread or 3 ounces of cooked rice or pasta)
- 4–5 servings of vegetables daily (30 g of lettuce, spinach, etc.; 50 g of cooked vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, or pumpkin)
- 4–5 daily servings of fruit (apples, pears, peaches, berries, pineapple, mango)
- 2-3 daily servings of skimmed dairy products (in the vegan DASH diet, they can get replaced by vegetable milk and added servings of legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds)
- Six or fewer daily servings of white meat, fish, and eggs (they can get replaced by legumes, including soy derivatives, nuts, and seeds)
- 4-5 weekly servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes (in a vegan or vegetarian diet, 2-3 daily servings of legumes are recommended)
- 2-3 daily servings of fats and oils (the most recommended is raw extra virgin olive oil, and a serving would be a tablespoon)
- No more than five servings of sweets per week (a serving would be a teaspoon of sugar or a glass of soda)
In practice, these instructions mean an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables. In that, for most people, whole grains, legumes, and a decrease in red meat and processed meat products and foods made with white flour. It also means avoiding ultra-processed foods because they don’t support the recommended amounts of salt, fat, and sugars.
On the other hand, when you combine the DASH diet with physical exercise is more effective. At least half an hour of moderate activity every day is recommended.