It’s one of the most effective diet strategies to bring down blood pressure and reduce dangerous inflammation. It helps us lose weight and protects almost every organ in our bodies. And hardly anyone knows about it.
It’s called the DASH diet, not to be confused with the popular seasoning. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension … yawn. Yet for the past seven years, the DASH diet got top billing on the US News & World Report list of best diets to promote weight loss and long-term health. And, as opposed to many of the diet plans coming your way in 2018, DASH is supported by some of the best research out there.
What makes it so cool? DASH does more than just lower blood pressure. It has been shown to lower the risk of kidney disease, improve heart function and even lower our risk of certain types of cancer.
Believe it or not, the main focus of this diet plan is not to cut out salt. DASH lowers blood pressure because of its unique mixture of nutrients including protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Experts have found that when these substances team up, they work synergistically to normalize blood pressure and fight off health-robbing inflammation. Published results have been nothing short of amazing.
If we don’t yet appreciate how important it is to keep our blood pressure normal, here are a few scare tactics from registered dietitian Denise Webb. High blood pressure, Webb says, can cause bulging or ruptured arteries, weakened enlarged hearts, stroke, dementia, kidney failure, damaged blood vessels in the eye, and sexual dysfunction in men.
Ready to pay attention now? Perhaps we might want to adopt one or more of these DASH-related recommendation:
▪ Buy a measuring cup and fill it two to three times a day with vegetables. Then eat those vegetables.
▪ Designate at least four snacks or meals a week to eat nuts, seeds, beans or lentils.
▪ Buy bread, cereal, crackers and other food made with “whole” grains.
▪ Consume at least two servings of low-fat milk, cheese or yogurt each day. Reduced-lactose products and buttermilk work, too.
▪ For an afternoon or evening lift, replace sugary sweet snacks with fresh, frozen, canned (without added sugar) or dried fruit.
▪ Eat three to six ounces of fish, poultry, lean meat or meat substitutes each day.
▪ Instead of drowning food with butter, mayonnaise or salad dressing, realize that a little dab will do.
▪ Drink no more than one or two alcoholic drinks a day or don’t drink at all.
Find the complete DASH eating plan at NHLBI.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan. It’s free.
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition.” Email her at Barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.