THE DASH DIET.

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Introduction:

The DASH diet which means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health This unique diet involves eating more fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy.
Some important definitions:

Hypertension is defined as a state where the systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90, or on medication for hypertension.

Prehypertension is defined as a state where the systolic blood pressure is greater than or equal to 120 and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 80. This is a new category that reflects concern about increased risk of developing heart disease even with mildly elevated blood pressure. This definition is very important for Asians who have a higher incidence of Diabetes, Hypertension and Metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is defined as having 3 or more of the following: either being over weight around the waist, having high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and/or elevated blood sugar. This is also known as syndrome X, or dys-metabolic syndrome.

The DASH diet is highly recommended:

Several important medical associations endorse the DASH diet.
• The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (one of the National Institutes of Health, of the US Department of Health and Human Services)
• The American Heart Association
• The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
• US guidelines for treatment of high blood pressure

The DASH eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in just 14 days. Best response came in people whose blood pressure was only moderately high, including those with pre-hypertension. For people with more severe hypertension, who may not be able to eliminate medication, the DASH diet can help improve response to medication, and lower blood pressure. The DASH diet is seen to lower cholesterol and when combined with ah weight loss and exercise program, it can reduce insulin resistance.
The Dietary recommendations of the DASH diet program:

The clinical study, called “DASH” for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, found that elevated blood pressures can be reduced with an eating plan low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol, and rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy foods. The plan is rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber.

The DASH diet includes grains and grain products. It is recommended that patients should include at least 3 whole grain foods each day and should have a minimum of 6 to 7 servings.

The recommendation for fruits is about 4 to 5 servings per day. Raw vegetables and stewed vegetables amount to about 4 to 5 servings’ everyday. Nuts, seeds, and legumes allowances are about 3 – 6 per week

The DASH diet recommends low fat or nonfat dairy foods, which should be about 2 to 3 servings per day.

This diet allows Lean meats, fish, and poultry to be less than 2 servings per day.
1.5 – 2.5
2 or less
Fats and sweets are less than 2 servings per week.

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Conclusions:

A DASH-style diet is essentially high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy, and whole grains, and low in red and processed meat, salt, and sweetened beverages.

Research was done among persons who had a normal diet, a normal diet with fruits and vegetables and the DASH diet. Subjects on the DASH diet were able to lower their blood pressure remarkable within two weeks. Further research also showed that reducing salt to 1500 mg per day significantly reduced blood pressure. Consequently an adherence to the DASH diet is associated with lower risk for coronary heart disease and stroke.

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