May’s Diet Review: The DASH Diet, Healthy eating to lower blood pressure

What is DASH?
The DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertensions. The DASH emphasises portion size, a variety of healthy foods and getting the right amount of nutrients. The below review is to help you discover how DASH can improve your health and help to lower your blood pressure.

DASH is a lifestyle approach to healthy eating thats been designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure; you may have hear your doctor call it hypertension. By following the DASH you are encouraged to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, including potassium, calcium and magnesium. The diet promotes a healthy amount of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.

DASH generally includes 2,000 calories, about 8,000kj , a day and is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fats. Although it is not a weight-loss program, you may indeed lose unwanted kgs as you are guided towards healthier food choices.

Cutting Back on Sodium.
The foods at the core of the DASH diet are naturally low in sodium and high in other important minerals needed to help reduce hypertension, such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. It’s important while following the DASH diet to look for other ways to further decrease your sodium intake. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,325mg of sodium, when reading food labels you may be surprised at just how much sodium some processed foods actually contain. The Australian recommendations for daily sodium consumption are less than 1,600mg! Even low-fat soups, canned vegetables, ready-to-eat cereals and sliced meats from the local supermarket deli often contain high amounts of sodium. When shopping, scan packaged foods for the nutritional panel and look at the per 100g column. Low salt foods are considered less than 120mg per 100g.

Tips to reduce Salt intake.
Using herbs and spices to flavour your foods instead of salt
Not adding salt when cooking rice, pasta
Rinsing canned foods to remove some of the sodium
Buy foods labeled ‘no added salt’, ‘low in salt’ or ‘salt free’

What about Alcohol and Caffeine?
Sodium isn’t the only factor to increasing hypertension in the population. Drinking too much alcohol and smoking can also contribute to an increase in blood pressure.
The DASH diet doesn’t address caffeine consumption and the influence of caffeine on blood pressure still remains unclear, however caffeine can cause blood pressure to rise temporarily so if you already have high blood pressure you may need to consult your doctor.

Important strategies to get started on DASH
Rather than switching to all whole grains, start by making one or two of your grain serves a day whole grains. Increasing fruits, vegetables and whole grains gradually can also help prevent bloating or diarrhoea that may occur if you aren’t use to eating a diet with lots of fibre. You can also try over-the-counter products to help reduce gas from beans and vegetables.

Reward yourself with a nonfood treat for your accomplishment, perhaps rent a movie, purchase a book or treat yourself to a spa day. Everyone slips up, especially when learning something new. Remember that changing your lifestyle should be a long-term process.

To boost the blood pressure lowering effects of the diet, consider increasing your physical activity in addition to following the DASH diet. Combining both the diet and regular exercise makes it more likely that you’ll reduce your blood pressure, along with other health benefits.

If you’re having trouble sticking to your diet, talk to your doctor or dietitian about it. You might get some tips that will help you stick to the diet. It can also make a huge difference to have the support of loved ones, family and friends.

Important reminder, healthy eating isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. What’s most important is that over the span of a week you eat healthier foods with plenty of variety and colour. This is both to keep your diet nutritious and to avoid boredom or extremes. For more information on suggested daily servings and information on blood pressure control see below links for details.

Healthiest Regards



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