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Review of The DASH Diet For High Blood Pressure.

written by: Michelle Kingston • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 10/12/2010

The DASH Diet for high blood pressure is an eating plan that helps lower high blood pressure (hypertension). Read this guide to learn how the DASH plan combines dietary changes and lifestyle modifications to control blood pressure.

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    DASH, Salt, and High Blood Pressure

    The key to success of the DASH Plan lies in reducing the consumption of salt/sodium—the leading contributor of high blood pressure. Table salt is very high in sodium; 1-gram of table salt equals 1000 milligrams of sodium. Note that the recommended daily intake of sodium ranges from 1500 to 2000 milligrams. To keep sodium levels in check, examine food labels on packaged foods for sodium content, and then select foods with reduced or low sodium levels.

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    The DASH Eating Plan

    DASH is an inexpensive, simple program to implement. The only purchases you will make are for the groceries needed to create heart healthy recipes, and a balanced diet.

    Allowable foods in the DASH diet for high blood pressure should come from sources rich in antioxidants such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. The diet also emphasizes healthy eating with low-fat dairy products, whole foods, and high-fiber foods. Limit your intake of lean red meats, fish, poultry, sweets, and all sugary foods.

    Additional food sources in the DASH diet are found in three important minerals that work together to promote healthy high blood pressure:

    Potassium: bananas, strawberries, broccoli, chickpeas, raw spinach.

    Calcium: yogurt, tofu, low fat cottage cheese, salmon, orange juice.

    Magnesium: nuts, brown rice, black beans, oatmeal, green leafy vegetables.

    Dr. Ernesto Schiffrin of Montreal’s Clinical Research Institute advises hypertensive patients to increase their omega-3 fatty acids intake with fish (salmon, halibut, and trout). Omega-3s are high in nutrients and has proven significant in reducing heart attack risk.

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    Anyone Can Benefit from the DASH Eating Plan

    As the name suggests, the DASH diet for high blood pressure primarily helps individuals who are hypertensive. But generally speaking, anyone with a family history of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, or cancer, can also benefit from this diet.

    DASH is also ideal for people fearful of continuing to take dangerous high blood pressure medication and who might prefer using a natural, safe approach. Even if your blood pressure is in normal range, DASH is considered an important factor in the prevention of high blood pressure later on. And, as people get older, their risk of getting other chronic diseases can lessen with the DASH approach.

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    DASH is Scientifically Tested

    Unlike many diets that are typically endorsed by celebrities, fitness trainers, and weigh-loss gurus, DASH was created by a team of doctors, with assistance from researchers, nutritionists, and study participants. This diet was commissioned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is strongly endorsed by American Heart Association (AHA).

    The DASH Diet works. Not only is it supported by clinical studies (and medically approved), it has been proven successful in lowering blood pressure in only 14 days.

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    DASH Guidelines for Fitness

    DASH participants are encouraged to practice mindfulness techniques to encourage relaxation . Examples of mindfulness includes conscious eating, chewing foods slowly, and even sitting down to meals at the dinner table rather than eating absent-minded while watching television.

    Lifestyle changes and exercise are also crucial to preventing and treating hypertension long term. Treatments include stress management therapies like meditation, as well as gentle, calming exercises like yoga, qigong, and tai chi.

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    A Final Point

    No known side effects or cause for alarm are associated with this diet. It's easy to stick because the meal plans are flexible. You won't feel deprived, and results are long lasting.