The DASH Diet Plan stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The diet was created by the Department of Health and Human Services based in the United States to address the increase in Americans with hypertension.
The DASH diet when followed correctly will help correct blood pressure significantly, while alleviating heart conditions and preventing diabetes from forming. People are also losing weight on the DASH diet, which leads to further decreases in blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause damage to kidneys and lead to heart attacks and strokes. If you only need to lose weight and you are without hypertension, this diet would not be recommended for you.
Before anti-hypertensive medications are prescribed to patients it is advised that healthcare providers first have their patients try “lifestyle modifications.” Such modifications include an exercise regime and the DASH diet.
The DASH diet plan is proven to reduce high blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity and lower cholesterol levels in the body.
1. You should consume 6-8 servings of grain a day. Roughly, your caloric intake should equal 2000 calories per day. A serving of grain can be a slice of bread, one cup of dry cereal, or half a cup of cooked rice or pasta.
2. Vegetable intake should be 4-5 servings a day of either broccoli, carrots, green beans, green peas, lima beans, kale, squash, spinach, potato, sweet potato and tomato.
3. Fruits intake should be 4-5 servings per day. Fruits to use are apples, apricots, bananas, dates, grapes, oranges, grapefruits, pineapples, peaches, strawberries and tangerines.
4. Non-fat or low-fat dairy products, 2-3 times a day. One cup of milk or yogurt or one and a half ounces of cheese makes one serving.
5. Lean meat, poultry, fish, 2-3 servings per day. A serving is either one-ounce of cooked meat, poultry, and fish or one egg.
6. 4 to 5 times per week, nuts, seed and legumes should be consumed. One time would be in the form of 1/3 cup of nuts from the selection of almonds, hazelnuts, mixed nuts, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, kidney beans or split peas. Or two tablespoons of peanut butter.
7. Fats and oils are permitted at 2-3 servings per day. 1 Serving is one tablespoon of soft margarine, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, one tablespoon of mayonnaise, or 2 teaspoon of salad dressing
8. Sweets are allowed and capped at 5 times per week.
9. Importantly, your salt intake should be no more than 1500 mg/day of sodium.
10. Potassium intake should be 4.7 grams per day.
11. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day and women no more than 1 drink per day. One serving means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or half an ounce of liquor.
12. Note, higher coffee and green tea consumption are inversely associated with risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
13. Make sure to get 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 times per week.
DASH Diet Plan
The DASH diet is an effective way to lower blood pressure. In four weeks there should be a noticeable difference. Typically a healthcare profession should put you on the DASH Diet; however, if your blood pressure is above 140/90 then you need to do something about it.
Try the DASH diet for a month and then retest your blood pressure. If it is still above 140/90 make sure to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider. Tell the primary care provider that you have tried the DASH diet the last month and it didn’t work out for you. Make sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week while on the DASH diet.
Don’t forget that sodium is a big contributor to hypertension; make sure you are getting below 1500 mg per day of sodium. Check the label on packaged and canned goods, there are often loaded with salt!