The DASH diet was created to assist people in managing their blood pressure by changing their diet. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, encourages meals with reduced sodium, trans fat and saturated fat while promoting meals rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium. Following this diet will reduce blood pressure is followed correctly and will need to become a part of your life if you are to continue reaping its benefits.
Benefits of the DASH diet
In addition to lowering your blood pressure, it can also help to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, strokes and osteoporosis.
Managing sodium levels
There are also two options that you can follow in terms of your sodium intake, namely the standard diet that allows for the consumption of up to 2,300mg of sodium a day and the low sodium diet that only allows for 1,500mg per day.
Foods that you can eat
The diet focuses primarily on the consumption of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. It also includes small portions of nuts, whole grains, fish and poultry. Small amounts of fats, red meats and sweets are also allowed.
Daily breakdown of nutrients
- Grains: 6 – 8 servings. This can include cereal, bread, rice and pasta. One serving equates to a slice of bread or half a cup of cooked rice, pasta and cereal. Try to consume whole grains as they are rich in fibre and nutrients.
- Vegetables: 4 – 5 servings. We recommend carrots, tomatoes, sweet potato, broccoli and other green vegetables.
- Fruit: 4 – 5 servings. They’re great as a snack or addition to any meal. Try to leave the peels on as they contain nutrients and fibre.
- Dairy: 2 – 3 servings. They’re a great source of vitamin D, calcium and protein, but can also be high in fat. Choose products that are low in fat or fat-free.
- Lean meats: Try to aim for no more than six servings of 30g per day. Try to trim away and skin and fat before cooking and avoid frying wherever possible. Roasted or oven-baked options are healthier.
- Seeds, nuts and legumes: 4 – 5 servings a week, so approximately one a day. They’re rich in fibre and have been known to provide protection against heart disease and certain cancers.
- Fats and oils: 2 – 3 servings. While the diet tries to avoid fats, it is essential for the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body and so you need to find the right balance when it comes to consuming fats.
- Sweets and treats: 5 servings a week. You don’t need to cut them out completely but try to consume sweets that are low in fat or fat-free. Sugar replacements can help you manage your cravings but use it in moderation.
What about caffeine and alcohol?
Alcohol has been known to increase blood pressure; however, the DASH diet allows for two drinks a day for men and one for women. Caffeine can cause a temporary increase in your blood pressure, but the diet doesn’t specify to what extent or what the recommended daily allowance is.
When properly followed and managed, the DASH diet can help you manage your blood pressure as well as your weight. It can also provide additional health benefits that can include preventing heart disease and certain cancers. All in all, the benefits are impressive and worth trying.
There are so many diets out there that it’s hard to keep track! Learn which ones are good for you on our Specialised Nutrition Course. For more information, please follow this link.