The DASH diet is often recommended to individuals who suffer from high blood pressure. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, it can help lower high blood pressure, thereby protecting against heart disease, stroke and other serious ailments. In case this is your first time hearing about the DASH diet, though, you might be wondering what it consists of and the health benefits it offers.
Overview of the DASH Diet
An acronym for "dietary approaches to stop hypertension," the DASH diet focuses on foods that are low in sodium and fat. Sodium, of course, can affect your blood pressure. Although it's an essential nutrient, consuming too much sodium will raise your blood pressure levels. Sodium will fill your blood, resulting in increased pressure against the inner walls of your blood vessels.
You can still consume sodium when following the DASH diet; you'll just consume less of it.t here are two versions of the DASH diet. One version places a 2,300-milligram limit on the daily consumption of sodium, whereas the other version places a 1,500-milligram limit on the daily consumption of sodium. Regardless, both versions of the DASH diet emphasize minimal amounts of both sodium and fat.
Here are some basic guidelines for the DASH diet:
- Limit intake of sodium
- Limit intake of saturated fat
- Increase intake of whole grains
- Increase intake of fruits and vegetables
- Choose lean meats
- Aim for two to three servings of dairy per day
- Add nuts and seeds to diet
Health Benefits of the DASH Diet
Following the DASH diet can help you control your blood pressure levels. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly half of all adults suffer from high blood pressure. Also known as hypertension, it's a serious ailment that raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.
With the DASH diet, you can lower your blood pressure levels. Research shows that people who suffer from high blood pressure typically experience a noticeable improvement in their blood pressure levels after just two weeks of following the DASH diet.
Instead of high-sodium processed foods, the DASH diet emphasizes natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Therefore, you'll benefit from additional vitamins and essential nutrients when following it. The vitamins and nutrients you obtain from these natural foods can strengthen your immune system. In turn, you'll be less likely to catch infectious illnesses, such as cold and flu viruses.