DASH Diet for High Blood Pressure
Most people with high blood pressure know that diet and lifestyle are important factors in bringing it under control. This makes sense since a healthy diet is crucial for all aspects of good health. While there is always a lot of controversy around just what constitutes a healthy diet, in general we all know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, avoiding heavy fats, staying with lean protein while minimizing snacks and junk food are good ideas. However, there is a diet specifically designed to help control blood pressure. It’s called the DASH diet.
DASH is an acronym that stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. While this diet is specifically aimed at controlling blood pressure is actually is a healthy diet for everyone.
One key is to stay away from highly processed and refined foods and sugary snacks. The emphasis is on fruits and vegetables (they recommend 5-10 servings per day), whole grains and smaller amounts of lean protein.
We tend to eat too much protein. For many of us it’s the “main event” of a meal. That’s not good for health.
While we should have a little bit of protein at every meal, 4 to 6 ounces is a reasonable serving. One rule of thumb is that 4 ounces of beef or chicken is approximately the size of a deck of cards.
Nonfat or low-fat dairy products have also been shown to be helpful for reasons that are not clear. Some people postulate that it is the calcium content. In any case, the Dash diet recommends to servings or so a day.
In the past all fats are vilified as bad for us. Now we have a bit more refined review. We realize that while we should minimize saturated animal fats we need some healthy fats in the diet. In particular omega-3 fats and mono unsaturated fats.
Ground flaxseed, fish and some nuts or reasonable sources of omega-3 fats. Olive oil is great for salad dressings, but is not stable when he did so it’s not the best for sautéing or frying. Currently I’m using coconut oil for that purpose.
Adequate hydration is also important to normal bodily function and the standard recommendation of 8 AM classes a day is a reasonable starting point. One guide to hydration is the color of your urine. If it’s dark yellow, you probably need to drink more water.
Finally, and you probably already know this, you should limit sodium intake to less than 2 g (2000 mg) a day. That’s a lesson that teaspoon of table salt. The real trick is avoiding all the salt that’s added to packaged foods. You really have to be careful and read the labels. You’ll probably be surprised to see just how much salt is in canned goods and other packaged foods.
So if you have high blood pressure, and even if you don’t, consider looking into the DASH diet. It’s a healthy way of eating.