It is thus advised that a change in diet would be more prudent for people dealing with high blood pressure (BP). The thinking is that if a person can control their own food intake, then they can watch what they eat for their own personal health. It’s a question of self-motivation to eat better to lower blood pressure.
The DASH Diet
Aside from exercise, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is recommended for BP reduction in overweight individuals. A DASH diet is high in low-fat dairy products and fiber, including fruits and vegetables. Patients on this diet had reductions in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). These reductions were 5.5 and 3.0mm Hg, respectively, compared with those on a standard diet.
With healthy options such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy, the DASH diet has become a popular choice in decreasing hypertension. These foods are high in key nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and protein.
The DASH diet can lower blood pressure because it has less salt and sugar than the typical diet. Desserts, sweetened beverages, fats, red meat, and processed meats are cut out in the DASH diet.
How To Start a DASH Diet
To start the DASH diet, these recommendations based on 2,000 calories a day is advisable:
- Grains: 7-8 daily servings (serving sizes: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta, 1 ounce dry cereal)
- Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings (1 cup raw leafy greens, 1/2 cup cooked vegetable)
- Fruits: 4-5 daily servings (1 medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 6 ounces fruit juice)
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 daily servings (8 ounces milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1.5 ounces cheese)
- Lean meat, poultry, and fish: 2 or fewer servings a day (3 ounces cooked meat, poultry, or fish)
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 4-5 servings per week (1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoons seeds, 1/2 cup cooked dry beans or peas)
- Fats and oils: 2-3 daily servings (1 teaspoon vegetable oil or soft margarine, 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons light salad dressing)
- Sweets: less than 5 servings per week. (1 tablespoon sugar, jelly, or jam)
Evidence suggests that decreases in BP are associated with improvements in left ventricular structure and function, and peripheral vascular health. Both exercise training and weight loss have been shown to decrease left ventricular mass and wall thickness. It may also reduce arterial stiffness and improve endothelial function.