How is the DASH Diet Beneficial for Hypertension?

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Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBSGeneral Physician, 6+ Years
Published On : 13-Jul-2022Read Time : 5 minutes
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To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art”. What you eat plays a major role in keeping you healthy, especially when it comes to the management of chronic health conditions like hypertension. Ever heard of the DASH diet for hypertension? Did you know that it is ideal for managing your blood pressure levels? Read on to find out more.

Contents:

  • What is the DASH Diet? 
  • How is the DASH Diet Beneficial for Hypertension? 
  • DASH Diet: Food List and Serving Size 
  • DASH Diet Chart for Hypertension 
  • Know What Foods to Avoid While on the DASH Diet 
  • Don’t Have Time To Read? 
  • FAQs 

What is the DASH Diet?

The DASH diet stands for the “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” diet. It is a healthy and balanced diet plan endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA) to help you manage your blood pressure. 

Following the DASH diet helps prevent or manage hypertension and reduce the risk of complications such as heart diseases. It focuses on foods that are rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which help lower your blood pressure levels.

The DASH diet focuses more on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat. It emphasises more on a plant-based diet for blood pressure and relies on cutting down on foods that may negatively affect your heart health, such as excess sodium, added sugars, and saturated or trans fats. 

The DASH diet also specifies the number of servings of a particular food to improve your blood pressure levels and heart health. Let’s understand how the DASH diet helps tackle high blood pressure.

How is the DASH Diet Beneficial for Hypertension?

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition where your blood pressure (the force that is exerted on your blood vessels as blood flows through them) is constantly high. Individuals with a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg (Normal Blood Pressure: ≤ 120/80 mm Hg) are considered to have high blood pressure. 

Following a DASH diet can effectively lower your blood pressure. Lowering your sodium intake is key to keeping your blood pressure under control. This is because sodium causes water retention in the body, increases your blood volume, and plays a major role in increasing your blood pressure. The DASH diet limits your sodium intake to 2300 mg a day (around 1 teaspoon of table salt). 

Foods included in the DASH diet are rich in nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium and improve the electrolyte balance in the body, thus lowering your blood pressure. The foods of the DASH diet can also lower low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol levels in your blood. This lowers the risk of high blood pressure and other related complications such as heart diseases and stroke

DASH Diet: Food List and Serving Size

Here is the food list and serving size for the DASH diet:

Food GroupServings
Grains6 to 8 daily (One serving is 1 slice of bread, 1-ounce dry cereal or ½ cup cooked cereal)
Meat, poultry, and fish6 or fewer daily (One serving is 1 ounce cooked meat/poultry/fish or 1 egg)
Vegetables4 to 5 daily (On serving is 1 cup raw leafy green vegetable, ½ cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetable, or ½ cup vegetable juice)
Fruits4 to 5 daily (One serving is 1 medium fruit, ½ cup, fresh/frozen/canned fruit, or ½ cup fruit juice)
Low-fat or fat-free dairy products2 to 3 daily (One serving is 1 cup milk or yoghurt, or 1 ½ ounce of cheese)
Fats and oils2 to 3 daily (One serving is 1 tsp vegetable oil, 1 tbsp mayonnaise, or 2 tbsps salad dressing) 
Sodium1500 mg to 2300 mg daily (around 1 teaspoon of table salt)
Nuts, seeds, dry beans, and peas4 to 5 weekly (One serving is ⅓ cup of nuts, 2 tbsp seeds, or ½ cup cooked legumes)
Sweets/Added Sugars5 or fewer weekly (One serving is 1 tbsp sugar, jelly or jam, ½ cup sorbet or 1 cup lemonade)

DASH Diet Chart for Hypertension

Here is an example of a full day DASH diet chart for hypertension.

Early Morning

  • Drinks such as unsweetened green tea or warm lemon water with honey.

Breakfast

  • Stuffed vegetable parathas (2 small) with curd (unsalted)/dosa (2 medium-sized) or idli (2) with sambar/ 2 egg white omelettes with chopped vegetables along with one slice of brown bread or 1 roti.

Mid-Morning Snacks

  • One medium-sized fruit such as apple, orange, guava or grapefruit with one glass of unsweetened green tea. 

Lunch

  • Vegetable brown rice pulao/vegetable oats upma with a bowl with grilled chicken or fish, raita, and mixed vegetable salad/2 chapatis or phulkas (without ghee) along with dal or sambar and a bowl of mixed vegetable salad.

Evening Snacks

  • Green tea/milk tea/coffee/fruit juice without sugar with 2 digestive biscuits/1 bowl of poha with dry fruits and vegetables/a bowl of fresh fruits.

Dinner

  • Whole wheat flour chapati or phulka (2 medium-sized) with a vegetable curry of your choice and a bowl of curd or dal/1 bowl of brown rice with grilled fish and vegetable curry.

Know What Foods to Avoid While on the DASH Diet

Now you know what foods to include in your daily meals while following a DASH diet. Here’s what you need to avoid in hypertension:

1. Overly Salty Foods

You can cut down on salty foods like chips, namkeen, condiments, etc., that have high amounts of sodium, which can raise your blood pressure levels.

2. High-Sugar Foods

The DASH diet recommends that added sugars be kept to a minimum, so avoid or limit your intake of high-sugar foods and beverages such as candy, cakes, pastries, and soda. Limit your intake of table sugar, unrefined sugars, and alternative sugar sources.

3. Caffeine

Try to avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, sports drinks, sodas, etc., which can spike your blood pressure readings as caffeine constricts your blood vessels and elevates your blood pressure.

4. High-Fat Foods

Foods that have high saturated and trans fat content, such as fast food, deep-fried food, dairy products like cream, butter, etc., can block your arteries, making them narrow and increasing your blood pressure levels.

5. Alcohol

Long term consumption or binge drinking of alcohol can cause several ill effects on your health, high blood pressure being one of them. Alcohol increases the level of a hormone called renin, which makes the blood vessels constrict. Renin also decreases the volume of fluids your body can eliminate through urine. Thus, higher fluid levels in the body and constricted blood vessels increase blood pressure levels.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • The DASH or “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”, is a healthy and balanced diet plan endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA), which helps manage and prevent hypertension.
  • The DASH diet focuses more on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat and is rich in foods containing heart-healthy nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium. It advises cutting down foods that may negatively affect your heart health, such as excess sodium, added sugars, and saturated or trans fats.
  • Sodium plays a significant role in increasing your blood pressure as it causes water retention in the body and increases your blood volume. Following the DASH diet can effectively lower your blood pressure as it recommends a low sodium intake (1500 to 2300 mg per day). 
  • The DASH diet also lowers low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol levels in your blood. This lowers the risk of high blood pressure and other related complications such as heart diseases and stroke.
  • While following the DASH diet, it is also necessary that you keep an eye on your serving size in order to keep your calorie intake in check and ensure the right amount of nutrition.
  • The foods that you need to avoid while on the DASH diet include salty food, high-sugar food, caffeine, foods high in saturated and trans fat, and alcoholic beverages.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India's leading cardiologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate BP monitors and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Hypertension Management Program which provides ‎360º care. Let's treat low/high blood pressure problems together.

Frequently Asked Questions

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