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DASH Diet for High Blood Pressure for Healthy Life

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, happens when the blood moves through the arteries at a higher pressure than normal. It rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, high blood pressure increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes. A typical modern diet is high in saturated fats, high glycemic load carbohydrates, omega-6 fatty acids, and many artificial additives.

This unhealthy diet, combined with an inactive lifestyle, is a significant setback in tackling hypertension. Fortunately, multiple studies show that improving dietary patterns can help treat high blood pressure. DASH is a popular diet that doctors recommend to cope with hypertension.

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH diet lowers high blood pressure due to its emphasis on reducing dietary sodium. In addition, it promotes the inclusion of micronutrients like potassium, magnesium, and calcium on the menu. The DASH diet creates healthy, sustainable habits, which is specifically great for people with hypertension. 

DASH Diet – An Introduction

The DASH aims to lower blood pressure without medication. Research shows that a DASH diet can lower systolic blood pressure by about 6 to 11 mm Hg.

It is a science-backed eating plan that promotes the consumption of vegetables, fruits, lean meat, dairy products, and minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium.

The DASH diet is ideal for people with hypertension because it encourages sticking to 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. In addition, like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH suggests limiting sweetened beverages, sweets, fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and tropical oils.

A study backs the DASH diet by showing that this eating plan improves blood pressure in adults with and without hypertension. Some additional research points out that the DASH diet was beneficial in preventing heart failure in people younger than 75 years of age.

A typical serving guide for a hypertensive person following the DASH diet is as follows:

  • Vegetables: Five servings per day
  • Fruits: Five meals per day 
  • Carbohydrates: Seven servings per day
  • Low-fat dairy products: Two servings per day
  • Lean meat products: Two or fewer servings per day
  • Nuts and seeds: 2 to 3 times per week

The HealthifyMe Note

DASH diet recommends more servings of plant proteins and the inclusion of certain foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It helps to prevent endothelial dysfunction and promotes smooth muscle relaxation. The carbohydrates in a DASH diet are healthy starches supplying energy and protective micronutrients. 

Dietary Recommendations for DASH Diet

Carbohydrates

Healthy carbohydrates in a DASH meal include green leafy vegetables, whole grains, low glycemic index fruits, and legumes. Despite the bad reputation of carbs, eating sufficient amounts of healthy starches or complex carbs is necessary.

Moreover, low-carb diets are not as healthy and can lead to decreased caloric intake as recommended. Sometimes people eat unhealthy fats as a substitute for carbs.

Proteins

The DASH diet includes both plant proteins and animal-based proteins. However, animal protein should not have processed and cured meats as they cause hypertension.

Instead, the diet mainly consists of lean meats, low-fat dairy, eggs, and fish. Some healthy plant proteins are legumes, beans, soy products, nuts, and seeds.

Fats

There are good fats and bad fats. Eating good fats prevents inflammation, provides essential fatty acids and promotes healthy blood pressure levels. Bad fats, which include partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, vegetable shortenings, and margarine, cause an increase in LDL, increasing blood pressure. 

Some good fat sources are:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids

The HealthifyMe Note

Remember to eat fats in moderation because they are a highly condensed energy source. Therefore, the serving sizes for fats are much smaller than other nutrients on the DASH recommendations.

DASH Meals to Lower Blood Pressure

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Soup

The Mediterranean chicken comes from the recipes of the Mediterranean diet. Research has shown that a Mediterranean diet helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and a healthy heart. It also maintains normal blood pressure. 

Mediterranean chicken and chickpea soup is a homemade weeknight soup. It has a rich flavour broth with tomato paste. This soup does not require any other complementary foods. However, you can use wheat bread for dipping the broth.

Eggplant Curry

Eggplant, also known as brinjal, is a good source of vitamins and minerals. It aids in digestion and improves heart and cardiovascular health. It helps lower blood pressure and normalises heart rate. 

Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa Bowl

Quinoa is a trendy ingredient among people with diabetes and people with high cholesterol levels, and cardiac diseases. In addition, an animal study shows that quinoa protein can help lower blood pressure. In addition, this dish contains primarily healthy unsaturated fats and hence does not raise body fat.

Egg Bhurji with Roti

Egg Bhurji with roti contains proteins and essential nutrients. This nourishing protein-rich meal contains eggs with finely chopped vegetables, adding multiple flavours and textures.

Hypertensive patients who stay clear of meat and fish can rely on eggs as a complete protein source. Make sure to pair it with whole wheat paratha or multigrain roti.

Hasselback Eggplant Parmesan

Hasselback is a cooking technique in which vegetables contain multiple partial cuts. It makes spices and all ingredients penetrate the vegetable and boost the taste.

The same is with the Hasselback eggplant parmesan. In this dish, eggplant is done with several partial cuts and filled with seasonings. A single serving of one eggplant Hasselback parmesan contains approx 300 calories. It has about 43 mg of magnesium and 550 mg of potassium, making it the best meal for hypertensive people.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken Caesar salad has always been trending in weight loss diets. It is suitable for heart health and also beneficial to the digestive system.

In addition, chicken Caesar salad is a good meal for high blood pressure patients. It is high in protein and contains approx 26g of protein in each serving and 375 calories. It is a good source of vitamin A, folate and vitamin B6, and B12.

Salmon Couscous Salad

Salmon is a healthy source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, it is a good source of potassium, reduces the risk of heart disease, and maintains blood pressure levels.

According to USDA, salmon contains 490 mg potassium per 100g. Moreover, salmon couscous salad is an excellent meal with enough carbs and proteins. However, it is advasaible to keep your couscous intake under control.

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa offers a healthy dose of protein, dietary fibre and vitamin B. In addition, it contains minerals like magnesium and potassium, higher than any other grain. Hence it is a good choice for hypertensive people. 

The HealthifyMe Note

A typical Indian DASH breakfast can include a stuffed carrot or spinach paratha made with whole wheat flour and curd with jeera powder. You can also eat roasted flax and sunflower seeds as early morning snacks. However, drink tea, coffee, green tea, and milk without adding sugar.

Are There Any Downsides of the Dash Diet?

The clinical trials of the DASH diet did not include special patient populations like those with chronic kidney or liver disease. Therefore, there is limited evidence available on the safety and efficacy of DASH for these people.

Moreover, additional modifications are necessary to facilitate its use in patients with lactose intolerance, celiac disease, chronic heart failure, and uncontrolled diabetes mellitus type II.

Too little salt in the DASH diet can concern labourers working in intense heat and competitive athletes who lose a lot of sweat. However, other than these cases, there shouldn’t be a concern about lowering salt in your DASH diet. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Before starting a new eating plan, discuss your blood pressure, weight, current medications, and heart disease risk factors with a doctor. It helps to determine the right plan for you. Then, plan your calorie goals with moderate-intensity aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities for better results. 

Conclusion

High blood pressure or hypertension arises from an unhealthy lifestyle and poor eating habits. Therefore, rearranging your diet into a heart-friendly one can help fight hypertension. Such a diet recommended by various health professionals and doctors is DASH.

A DASH diet focuses on foods that improve insulin sensitivity and reduce triglyceride levels. These factors combine to lower blood pressure. Unlike other restrictive diets, a DASH diet does not advocate cutting out any food groups or types of food. However, the DASH diet meal plan has a limited allowance for foods high in salt, saturated fats, and artificial sweeteners.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What foods lower blood pressure and make up the DASH diet?

A. A DASH diet focuses on healthy eating without cutting out any major nutrient groups. It contains fruits, vegetables, and other foods low in sodium and minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition, a DASH diet usually has low-fat dairy products and lean meats. For example, it recommends more servings of lean meats, low-fat dairy, eggs, and fish with plant proteins like legumes, beans, soy products, nuts, and seeds.

Q. What diet will lower blood pressure?

A. The DASH diet is popular to lower blood pressure. Most doctors and health professionals recommend having a DASH diet to get a long-term solution to hypertension. The DASH diet is low fat, low sodium, and rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. These minerals help lower blood pressure. Apart from reducing blood pressure, the DASH diet helps lower blood glucose levels, triglycerides, and insulin resistance. 

Q. Are eggs allowed on a DASH diet?

A. Yes. Eggs are low in sodium and thus allowed in the DASH diet. However, eggs contain cholesterol, so limit egg yolk intake to no more than four per week. 

Q. Who is the DASH diet not recommended for?

A. People with chronic liver and kidney disease should avoid the DASH diet. In addition, it is not suitable for those taking medications like renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system antagonists. Furthermore, limited evidence is available on the safety and efficacy of the DASH for uncontrolled diabetes mellitus type II and chronic heart failure. Moreover, the DASH diet requires some modifications if it is for those with lactose intolerance and celiac disease.

Q. Are eggs good for high blood pressure?

A. Eggs are found helpful in the treatment of high cholesterol and obesity. It also improves overall cardiovascular health. In addition, egg whites are very beneficial for lowering high blood pressure. However, eat eggs in moderation. Overeating eggs can increase cholesterol levels, leading to blood pressure fluctuations. 

Q. Do bananas lower BP?

A. Yes. Bananas are a rich source of vitamin B and potassium which helps lower the blood pressure. Bananas are good to consume for breakfast or lunch as they contain good carbs, so they allow one to stay energetic.

Q. Can drinking water lower blood pressure?

A. Hydration is always important. Hydration helps the body to keep hormonal levels regular. If the body is lacking in water or dehydrated, blood pressure levels may fluctuate due to a rise in cortisol levels. Therefore, having a good amount of water makes you hydrated and lowers blood pressure.

Q. How can I bring my blood pressure down immediately?

A. There is no safe and effective way to lower blood pressure quickly. However, you can gradually lower blood pressure through healthy eating and regular exercise. Also, cutting back on sugars and sodium helps lower blood pressure. If the high blood pressure is an emergency, lie down flat and calm yourself until emergency help arrives.

Q. Does lemon water reduce blood pressure?

A. Yes, lemon can help reduce blood pressure. In addition, the refreshing lemon water is a good potassium source, a mineral helpful for lowering blood pressure. Additionally, the drink is low in fat and carbs. However, do not add sugar or salt to lemon water. 

Q. Is cheese good for high blood pressure?

A. No. Even though cheese minerals might agree with DASH diet requirements, it contains high saturated fat and calories. Therefore, overeating cheese might lead to increased cholesterol and blood pressure. It might also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

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