What is the DASH Diet?

Healthy Eating Designed to Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure – called ‘Hypertension’ is common. This potentially dangerous condition is present in an estimated one billion people worldwide. It is linked in cardiovascular and stroke risk.

The DASH diet has been designed to help lower blood pressure. It stands for:

  • D: Dietary
  • A: Approach
  • S: (to) Stop
  • H: Hypertension

Before I get into the ways it can help, a quick disclaimer. No medical advice anywhere in this magazine. If you have hypertension (or any symptoms whatsoever) then you should consult a medical professional.

Basics: What Is the High-Level Idea Behind the DASH Diet

This is a low salt, high fibre diet. By removing sodium from your day to day eating, it has shown immediate effects of reducing high blood pressure. This diet also has a lower amount of red meat, and an emphasis on vegetables, whole grains, and lower-fat dairy products.

A major positive is that very few food groups are excluded. You still get to eat meat, cheese, and carbs – only in moderation. The DASH diet is a significant first step for many people. Replacing pasta and white rice with the whole-grain, or brown versions is not a panacea. It is better than sticking with the worst versions – meaning people can then take steps to reduce carbs once the benefits show though.

DASH does emphasise smaller portions. There is also a stricter version, which is even lower in sodium than the main diet.

Reducing Sodium (Salt): What Does the DASH Diet Ban?

The DASH diet excludes the following broad groups:

  • Sugary Foods: You need to avoid high-sugar foods like sweets, cakes, and biscuits. There are many other sources of sugar to know about – cartons of Fruit Juice contain so much of it that they are literally poisonous, pop drinks, that spoon or two in your coffee and more.
  • High Fat Meats / Dairy: This is not a vegetarian diet, though there is a heavy emphasis on reducing meats with higher saturated fat content. You won’t eat meat with every meal and replace anything low quality with lean red meat cuts. High fat dairy products are also avoided and replaced with lower fat substitutes.
  • Processed / High Salt Foods: Ready meals, soups, sausages, and snacks are often packed with vegetable oils (the bad versions), sugar and salt. Many people simply don’t realize how even the ‘low fat’ versions of them are packed with things that are simply not compatible with a healthy lifestyle.

DASH DIET

What to Eat More of to Reduce Hypertension

If the section above just took away most of your favourite foods, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to create delicious lunches, dinners and even snacks.

Fruit is still allowed. Personally, I’m sceptical about keeping this in. While there are vitamins and fibre in many fruits, they are also high sugar. Substituting that slice of cake for a banana is still net positive. Keeping fruit to a minimum or choosing lower sugar options like berries is even better.

Leafy greens can be used to make delicious salads. Choosing oils wisely, adding fish, chicken and only the best quality red meats will all contribute to lowering your blood pressure. Increase the portion size of your vegetables and reduce carb and meat portions for an extra boost.

This diet is high fibre. It emphasises switching from white bread to whole grain, from regular to whole-grain pasta and from white to brown rice. All of this will boost your dietary fibre intake, which is great for digestive health. At the same time, these foods are bad in terms of spiking your insulin levels (potentially leading to insulin resistance and eventually diabetes).

Making this switch is net positive – reducing bread, pasta and rice significantly is even better.

Wrapping Up: Weight Loss and Hypertension

Reducing your sodium intake and switching from sugary, high fat foods to healthy alternatives is a clear win when it comes to lowering your blood pressure.

There is one other thing that will help far more – losing that excess fat, getting fit and educating yourself on the right balance of foods to promote a healthy life.

You found the right website for exactly that. Check out these guides, and take the first step on a fitter, healthier life today: