What is DASH Diet?
DASH is an acronym that stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a dietary plan designed to prevent or treat hypertension. Hypertension is the condition associated with high levels of blood pressure in the body. Hypertension can also cause some life threatening diseases such as heart attacks. The DASH diet promotes a wide variety of healthy foods that contain nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, low sodium and saturated fats.
How to start a DASH diet
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a US Department of Health and Human Services, everyone is at risk of developing high blood pressure. Since hypertension is caused by lifestyle decisions, it’s also preventable. Incorporating a DASH diet as soon as possible can prevent the risk of acquiring hypertension. If you are already sick, this diet will help you lower your blood pressure. Here are the best foods for a DASH Diet;
- Consume whole grains products often. Whole grain products include pasta, oats, and wheat.
- Take less sodium. Take low intakes of salt to lower your body’s levels of sodium.
- Eat vegetables and fruits frequently.
- Reduce your intake of red meat like beef and instead eat white meat products such as fish and poultry.
- Avoid or reduce saturated fats. Eat foods that are low in cholesterols.
How does DASH Diet work?
The Dash diet encourages lower consumption of sodium and saturated fats. It advocates for increased consumption of magnesium, calcium, fiber and potassium to help lower the blood pressure. Each nutrient in the diet plays a role in controlling hypertension and other health complications. Learn how the diet works to lower the blood pressure through each nutrient.
Foods rich in potassium can help manage high blood pressure. Potassium lessens the effects of sodium in your body by eliminating it through urine. That means the more potassium you take, the more sodium you lose through urine. Additionally, potassium nutrients ease tension in the blood vessels, thus, reducing the risk of hypertension. Potassium also helps modulate baroreceptor sensitivity in the body. This, in turn, helps prevent deformation of nerve endings or your artery walls. Fruits and vegetables are natural sources of potassium. Take adequate potassium to keep your sodium levels low.
Magnesium is responsible for most enzyme functions in the body. Lack of enough magnesium can result to increased blood pressure. Magnesium works by modulating vascular tones and reactivity. It increases the effectiveness of all anti hypertension drugs. Foods rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens like spinach, beans, fish, whole grains and many more. However, consuming much magnesium can cause diarrhea due to the excessive excretion from the body.
Calcium works in conjunction with other nutrients to curb hypertension. Enough calcium in the blood balances the body acid and PH. Low amounts of calcium causes calcium depletion from cell membranes. This results to poor stability of the vascular cell membranes. In turn this increases vasoconstriction, a life threatening condition. Additionally, calcium contains ions that provide vascular membrane balance. Foods that are rich in calcium include kales, unprocessed milk and many other more.
- Reduced saturated fats
Huge consumption of saturated fats increases cholesterol in the blood. High level of cholesterol leads to high blood pressure as the veins and arteries are blocked. Your heart is then forced to use extra energy to pump blood. Foods that contain high levels of saturated fats include, cheese, butter, whole milk diaries product, pork etc.
- Low level of sodium
Consuming a lot of salt can cause hypertension. Excessive consumption of sodium can damage your kidneys. When sodium intake your body is too high, the kidneys get blocked by sodium particles to the point where they can’t work any longer. The body holds onto water to dilute the ‘left’ sodium thus increases volume of blood. The increased blood volume causes the heart to overwork. Overworking the heart leads to high blood pressure.
Benefits of DASH diet
Even though this diet pattern was developed with the main purpose of controlling and managing hypertension, it has other health benefits. It has been proven to be very healthy. In 2017, the US News & World Report ranked DASH as the best to prevent lifestyle diseases.
Benefits of Taking a DASH Diet
- Managing high blood pressure
The original goal for the DASH diet was to prevent and treat high blood pressure. The diet helps you avoid foods that put you to risk of hypertension. It provides you with a diet pattern that helps prevent straining the cardiovascular system, thus lowering the body’s blood pressure.
- Weight Loss
People with weight conditions like obesity are prone to hypertension and other fatal diseases. The DASH Diet contains low amounts of cholesterol. The diet advocates low saturated fats and more vegetables which is a plus in losing weight.
- Prevents Cancer
The World Cancer Research Fund states that there is a connection between unhealthy eating habits and cancer. Proper diet reduces the risk of cancer. DASH diet provides all the nutrients necessary for a healthy body. It helps reduce and eliminates the cancer cells in the body. Alternatively, it contains foods that are alternative to foods that cause cancer. For example, red meat which can cause cancer like beef is replaced with white meat such as fish and poultry.
- Preventing kidney diseases
The US National Kidney Foundation states that the DASH diet reduces the risks of kidney failure. Since the diet promotes foots with low sodium intake, it can help prevent kidney failures. Also, the diet is rich in potassium nutrients that help control the level of sodium in the body.