Diet Changes to Prevent and Treat Hypertension

Diet Changes to Prevent and Treat Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition that can greatly increase the risk of heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, and others. Worse still - it's on the rise in America. In the past 20 years, its incidence has jumped from 24% (43 million Americans) to 30% (over 75 million Americans). In response to this crisis, researchers have developed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, called the DASH diet. The diet is endorsed by dietitians and government health agencies alike.

In this article, we cover the basic principles of the DASH diet to make you better equipped to treat or prevent hypertension.

The Plan

The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low- or non-fat dairy. It also incorporates lean protein sources like fish and poultry and healthy fat sources like nuts and seeds. The diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet. The following table shows the exact DASH diet prescription.

Fish or poultry2 or fewer

Type of FoodNumber of Servings (2000 Calorie Diet)
Grains 7-8
Fruits 4-5
Vegetables 4-5
Low fat or non-fat dairy 2-3
Nuts, seed, legumes 1 every day or two
Fats and sweets 1 every two or three days

Who Should Follow the Dash Diet?

As you might have noticed, the foods prescribed by the DASH diet are all low in sodium. This makes it an effective diet for treating or preventing hypertension, which is what it was originally designed to do. But it is also a great for many other health goals, including weight loss and cholesterol management.

DASH Diet Tips

It's a big commitment to switch diets on a dime. And constantly switching diets will reduce their effectiveness. So there are many reasons not to drop your current dietary approach and switch to DASH. In this case, here are a few principles - inspired by the DASH diet - that can easily apply to any dietary plan without completely changing it.

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. The DASH diet recommends 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of any healthy diet - they are packed with nutrients, taste great, are easy to prepare, and help with a variety of conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, and obesity. Eat as much as you can.
  • Focus on lean proteins like fish and poultry instead of fatty red meats. This will do wonders for your cholesterol levels and heart health. Plus fish, especially salmon, are packed with healthy fats like omega-3s.
  • Cut down the sweets. I don't need a reason to cut down the sweets. But notice that I said "cut down", not "cut out". Being to strict and not allowing yourself a treat is a great way to start hating your diet. If you hate your diet, you won't last very long with it. So enjoy some sweets a few times a week. It won't kill you, but it might save your diet.

CATEGORIES: DASH, Healthy Foods, Hypertension , Top Diet Plans