The DASH diet was conceived to help people with hypertension lower their blood pressure. Today, it is often prescribed by doctors to patients with hypertension to improve their blood pressure and prevent heart disease.
Across the world, millions of people are affected by hypertension, and the number of people with high blood pressure has crossed a billion.
The normal blood pressure is 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. Anything over these is interpreted as abnormal pressure. A systolic pressure of at least 140 and a diastolic pressure of at least 90 (140/90) indicates definite high BP or hypertension.
High blood pressure can eventually lead to heart disease and other health problems if it is not reduced and kept under control.
A natural way to control this condition instead of increasing medication is the DASH diet.
How the DASH diet was formulated
Researchers found that blood pressure was far less prevalent in people who ate a plant-based diet as it generally included less salt and fats. Salt contains sodium, which induces the body to retain more water. This excess amount of water increases blood pressure.
So, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or Dash diet was formulated. It limits fatty meats and dairy products and recommends that packaged/pre-processed foods must be avoided as these contain more salt. The diet is designed to include more fruits and vegetables, nuts and beans, and low-fat dairy products. Salt consumption is to be kept at a minimum.
How the DASH diet helps improve heart health
Lowering sodium consumption helps to bring down blood pressure. But, the DASH diet doesn’t just reduce salt consumption. It also limits fatty foods which help lower levels of cholesterol. This, in turn, further reduces the risks of heart disease.
There are two versions of the DASH diet:
The DASH diet lowers blood pressure even in those who don’t have a hypertension problem. The low salt version helps bring down blood pressure and is highly effective in people who have high BP.
DASH diet and weight loss
The DASH diet is not primarily a weight loss diet. It was designed to lower blood pressure and reduce risks of heart disease. However, people with high blood pressure are often recommended to lose weight as excess weight can increase the problem.
The DASH diet enables people to consume fewer calories. So, even though the diet is not a weight-loss plan, it can help those who follow it to gradually lose weight. However, the diet needs to be combined with exercise routines to be more effective in weight loss.
Hypertension is a problem that needs to be controlled effectively as it increases the risk of heart disease and other health problems. By using foods to control blood pressure, the DASH diet takes a natural approach to control this condition. If the diet also cuts down on calories consumed, it can also aid in weight loss. This diet also reduces risks of type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.