What Is the DASH Diet?

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By jolene
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Reviewed: Dr. Mera
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The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is a diet that is promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in an effort to control and prevent high blood pressure. This diet is rich in healthy foods such as low-dairy foods, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It also recommends the consumption of beans, nuts, poultry, meat, and fish while limiting the intake of red meat, sweetened foods, and added fats. Besides controlling hypertension, the DASH diet also has a well-balanced approach to food.

The National institute of Health (NIH) based the DASH diet from their studies that examined three dietary plans. Although none of the examined diets were vegetarian, the DASH diet incorporates more vegetables and fruits, nuts, beans, and low-fat dairy. The DASH diet has been observed to reduce the systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 6 mmHg and 3 mmHg respectively in normal individuals. In patients with high blood pressure, it reduced the systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 11 mmHg and 6 mmHg. These changes were seen without any modifications in body weight and based on a daily caloric intake that ranges from 1600 to 3100 calories per day.

1. Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a chronic condition where the blood pressure in the arteries is abnormally elevated. While it may not cause symptoms, if left untreated for a long time it is a risk factor for heart failure, coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, vision loss, and dementia. It is thought to affect as many as 50 million individuals in the United States while this number soars to 1 billion globally.

The higher the blood pressure, the higher the likelihood of kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. It has been estimated that for individuals between 40 to 70 years old, an increment of 20 mmHg in systolic or 10 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease.

DASH Diet

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