The DASH Diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet or DASH is a well researched diet to reduce Hypertension. It has significant evidence behind its’ success including a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010.
The programme is simple; combining a diet low in salt, low in fat and rich in fruit and vegetables and other nutrient rich foods such a moderate amounts of low fat dairy, whole grains and pulses, nuts and seeds. It should be adopted as a lifelong change. Salt should be reduced to at most 6g salt (2.3g sodium a day) but the lower the better.
The DASH diet showed benefits over a high fruit and vegetable diet alone and significant benefits over a typical American diet (high salt, fat and processed food) in reducing blood pressure.
Blood pressure figures were reduced by 11 / 5 mmHg compared with the control in 8 weeks e.g. if your typical blood pressure reading is 150/90 it may reduce to 139 / 85.
There is a natural increase in blood pressure with age – this seems to be mitigated to some extent by following the DASH diet. Hence switching to a healthier diet as we age may be protective against developing high blood pressure in the first place.
Those with borderline high blood pressure may be able to reduce or prevent need for medication by
- Adopting the DASH diet or a Mediterranean type diet plus low salt
- Calorie restriction if overweight
- Regular exercise
Changing your habits can reduce your need for medication… A diet should always be part of an overall, lifelong, LIFESTYLE change…
Lifestyle change can improve the blood pressure as much as taking a single antihypertensive drug. It reduce the need to start drugs and can improve how a drug works once started. It can reduce your overall risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
In combination with the dietary changes discussed above adding olive oil and garlic to the diet, omega 3 containing fish (oily) and drinking green tea and a modest quantity of red wine also show evidence towards blood pressure reduction.
Stopping smoking and reducing overall alcohol and caffeine intake is very important.
On the physical side aerobic and relaxation exercise both have been proven to reduce blood pressure.
To read our blog on High Blood Pressure – Fast Facts Click Here
A full summary of the DASH diet can be found here through the reputable Mayo Clinic website http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456 (no need to purchase diet books!)
The British blood pressure society have produced a very useful illustrated diet guide on its’ website http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/BloodPressureandyou/Yourlifestyle/Eatingwell or see your GP or the Irish Heart Foundation www.irishheart.ie for diagnosis, information or support