Using the DASH Diet for Hypertension Control

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About the DASH Diet

There are a variety of methods that can be used to help control hypertension. Using the DASH diet for hypertension is one of those methods and can be a good option used alone or with other options.

According to information published in the DASH diet guide (NIH), the highest amount of sodium considered to be acceptable for a person with high blood pressure is 2300 mg. This measurement comes from the National High Blood Pressure Education Program. 2,300 mg is not a goal to be reached, however. The lower the sodium a person consumes, the lower the blood pressure level. It is estimated that the average American consumes 3,300 to 4,200 mg of sodium daily. Interestingly, approximately 28 percent of Americans aged 18 and over have a condition known as prehypertension.

The steps that can be used to help prevent hypertension include getting to and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising or being moderately active during most of the week, eating healthy and only consuming alcohol in moderation. The DASH diet can aid in creating a healthy eating plan to help prevent or deal with high blood pressure.

DASH Diet Components

The DASH diet eating plan is comprised of foods that are:

  • Low in saturated fat
  • Low in cholesterol
  • Low in total fat
  • Rich in potassium
  • Rich in calcium
  • Rich in magnesium
  • Rich in fiber
  • Rich in protein

Suggested foods on the program include fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat free dairy products, whole grains, nuts, fish and poultry.

Foods that are limited on the eating plan include sweets, foods with added sugars, lean red meats and beverages that contain sugar.

DASH Diet Foods

According to Dashdiet.org, the amounts of each food type to be eaten are as follows.

Fruits. Four to six servings of fruits a day are included in the 1600 to 3100 calorie diet. For 2000 calories, the servings per day is four or five.

Vegetables. On a 1600 to 3100 calorie plan, the servings of vegetables per day to be consumed on the DASH diet are four to six. For the 2000 calorie plan, the amount is four or five.

Whole Grains. At least three servings of whole grains a day are part of both caloric plans, though grains, in general are recommended in levels of six to twelve servings total on the 1600 to 3100 calorie plan; seven or eight on the 2000 calorie plan.

Nuts, Legumes and Seeds. These foods are to be eaten three to six times a week on the 1600 to 3100 calorie plan, with four or five servings per week on the 2000 calorie plan.

Lean Meats, Fish, Poultry. These foods are recommended in amounts of 1.5 to 2.5 servings per day on the 1600 to 3100 calorie plan. The 2000 calorie plan has a recommended serving amount per day of up to two.

Benefits

The DASH Diet Guide (NIH) cites a study conducted that involved 458 adults. Three eating plans were used. One was the typical American eating plan. The second was a typical American eating plan with extra fruits and vegetables. The last was the DASH diet plan. For this study, all three plans contained approximately 3,000 mg of sodium.

The results showed that while those who ate the typical American eating plan with extra vegetables and fruits in it had a reduction in blood pressure, those who ate the DASH diet had the greatest reduction in blood pressure, experiencing almost immediate benefits. Within two weeks of beginning the DASH diet, participants in the study saw blood pressure reduction.

Clearly, using the DASH diet for hypertension control can be a beneficial option for patients that can have almost immediate results. This makes it especially attractive for those facing surgery or other serious health concerns.

References

The DASH Diet Eating Plan. https://www.dashdiet.org/

Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with the DASH Eating Plan. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: National Institutes of Health. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf