Lower your blood pressure—and weight—with the DASH diet.
What’s your greatest superpower in the fight against high blood pressure? It just might be nutrition. “Diet is essential in controlling high blood pressure. You really need to make dietary changes if you want to see changes in your blood pressure,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN. That’s where the DASH diet comes in.
The DASH diet—which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—is a diet full of heart-healthy produce, nuts, grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein, with a special focus on blood pressure-lowering nutrients. “Certain types of foods are actually more beneficial in preventing heart disease than other types of foods,” says Satjit Bhusri, MD, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Foods that have been shown to help maintain healthy blood pressure are high in such nutrients as:
- fish oils
The DASH eating plan is designed to be easy to follow, with no special recipes or foods. It simply encourages you to get a certain amount of servings from various food groups, avoid sodium, and lower your intake of sweets, alcohol, and heart-unhealthy fats, like those found in red meat and fried foods.
To start lowering your blood pressure levels, try these tips to help you slowly incorporate the DASH diet into your life:
- Add a serving of fruit or veggies to your breakfast, lunch, or dinner each day, slowly working your way up to a serving (or two!) at each meal.
- Switch up your dairy—like the milk in your coffee or the cheese in your scramble—to fat-free or low-fat varieties.
- Avoid red meat, and watch lean meat (chicken or turkey) portion sizes, limiting your intake to 6 ounces a day, or 3 ounces per meal (about the size of a deck of cards).
- Aim for two or more vegetarian-style meals each week.
“[Eating this way] really does make a difference. You can actually drop your systolic blood pressure between 8 to 14 points over the course of months,” says Largeman-Roth.
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Diet is essential in controlling
high blood pressure.
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You really need to make dietary
changes if you wanna see a change
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in your blood pressure.
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The DASH diet for hypertension stands for
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dietary approaches to stop hypertension.
It's the first and
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still the only NIH funded
scientific trial that shows
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that certain types of foods are actually
more beneficial in preventing
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heart disease than other types of foods.
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the DASH diet is low in sodium and
it's also rich in potassium, magnesium,
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and calcium, and those are all nutrients
that help to bring blood pressure down.
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It's really focused on fruits and
vegetables, low-fat dairy,
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lean proteins, low amounts of red meat,
low amounts of sweets, and oils.
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And it really does help make a difference,
you can actually drop your systolic blood
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pressure between 8 and
14 points over the course of months.
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So on the DASH diet, if you're looking
at a typical 2,000-calorie diet,
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that would be 6-8 servings of grains
a day, 4-5 servings of vegetables,
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4-5 servings of fruit,
2-3 servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy,
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6 or fewer servings of lean meat including
chicken and fish, 4-5 servings of nuts,
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legumes, or seeds a week,
2-3 servings of fats and
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oils each day, and 5 or
fewer servings a week of added sugar, so
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things like ice cream, cakes, and cookies.
So examples of serving sizes would
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include a 1 ounce slice of bread, it would
also include 1 cup of leafy vegetables or
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1/2 cup of cooked vegetables, a medium
size fruit or 1/2 cup of fresh fruit or
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frozen fruit, and
3 ounce portion of cooked lean protein.
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Lastly, let's not forget about the low-fat
dairy which would be an 8 ounce
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glass of milk.
A lot of people are surprised to hear
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that most of the salt that we get in our
diet is actually not from the salt shaker,
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it's coming from processed food,
packaged food, and restaurant food.
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And the sodium guidelines are that we
should be consuming no more than 2,300
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mg a day.
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So the way that I like to think about
that is if you're having three meals,
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no more than about 500 mg at each meal,
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then the rest of that would
be taken up with snacks.
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I think a lot of people have the idea
in their heads that if they're gonna be
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following the DASH diet it's
not gonna be flavorful, but
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that's not true because you're gonna be
eating a ton of fruits, a ton of veggies,
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probably trying things that you haven't
tried before, adding more nuts and
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legumes to your diet, so really I think
it can be a great diet to follow.
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Your Guide To Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH. Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2015. (Accessed on January 2, 2018 at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/dash_brief.pdf)
Diet in the treatment and prevention of hypertension. UpToDate, 2017. (Accessed on January 2, 2018 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diet-in-the-treatment-and-prevention-of-hypertension?source=search_result&search=dash&selectedTitle=1~24)