Oh yeah, I know what you’re thinking: yet another diet?
Whether it’s the Atkins diet , the Paleo diet, or a combination of the two, I always feel that diets focus on restrictions instead of including different foods that aren’t bad for you.
You cannot eat carbohydrates, you cannot eat fats, you cannot abuse sugars. In short, you understand.
People usually go on a diet to lose weight and, of course, also aim to stay healthy as if they would find it an added benefit. But what about a diet that aims to actually make you healthier ?
Well, according to the creators of the DASH diet , this is exactly what happens when you decide to follow it.
The DASH diet was not created for weight loss. The creators say that if you stick to their rules about low-fat or zero-fat fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and dairy products, you are not only losing weight, but you can also do without drugs to control blood pressure. and also diabetes .
Wait a minute, this drug thing is pretty cool. In practice, this diet claims that the first cure is nutrition to the point of interrupting the treatment with some specific medicines for some specific diseases. Very interesting, in fact.
What is the DASH diet?
DASH is the acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, translated: Dietary Approaches to Block Hypertension.
Hypertension , or high blood pressure, affects 50 million people in the United States and approximately 1 billion people worldwide.
Hypertension is definitely something you want to avoid. We know that high blood pressure is directly related to heart disease. The higher your blood pressure, the more likely you are to suffer from terrible diseases such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and even heart failure.
The World Health Report drawn up each year by the World Health Organization estimates that hypertension produces “about 7.1 million deaths a year”.
This unhealthy trend towards rising hypertension numbers has led the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to initiate specific research into trying to reduce these numbers and lead people to live healthier lives.
Creation of the DASH diet
Between 1992 and July 1997, the researchers tested 459 men and women who were around 46 on average and had a standard high blood pressure between 160 / 80-95. The test subjects were mainly an African-American minority because they are among the most affected by the symptoms of hypertension.
Participants were asked to follow one of three diets: a maintenance diet that was low in fiber and minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium but had a “typical American” profile high in fat and protein; an experimental diet that was similar to a maintenance diet but included more fruits and vegetables and fewer sweets and a third diet that was all about fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein, whole grains, fiber, low in fat, red meat and sugar.
This third diet became what we know today as the DASH diet.
When the subjects’ results were analyzed, the researchers found that the DASH diet yielded some rather surprising results.
Does the DASH diet reduce blood pressure?
To fully grasp the claim that the DASH diet lowers high blood pressure, we must first understand how many pressures exist and why.
As the American Heart Association (AHA) explains, blood pressure arises as a ratio of two numbers: systolic and diastolic. So, for example, let’s say that a normal pressure can be defined as 117/76 (read as 117 out of 76).
The first number is the systolic number, it is the number that reads the blood pressure at the moment of contraction of the heart.
The second number, the diastolic one, is the one that reads the pressure in the arteries in the intervals between beats.
The AHA uses this chart as a guideline for determining normal high blood pressure ranges:
A study from the Annals of Epidemiology reports that if you’re between the ages of 40 and 70, every 20-point increase in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and every ten-point increase in diastolic blood pressure (DBP) doubles your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers who talk about the DASH diet, on the other hand, speak in a study of substantial reductions in both diastolic and systolic pressure thanks to the diet.
So now that we know that the DASH diet definitely works to lower high blood pressure. Precisely for this we can begin to analyze why it works.
What you eat on the Dash diet
The US Department of Agriculture considers the DASH diet to be one of the healthiest diets you can follow. The other diets considered hyper healthy are: vegetarian , vegan and the Mediterranean diet . In fact, they are all diets that focus on fruit and vegetables.
In fact, some consider the DASH diet to be the Americanized version of the Mediterranean diet, also based on fruit and vegetables.
This was not an accident or a strange coincidence: the researchers for the DASH diet wanted to test just these foods and also the various combinations of foods. Unlike some calorie-limiting diets, the DASH diet encourages followers to stick to the recommended daily calorie intake based on age and activity level.
This food list is great because it’s just the kind of healthy and varied food I love! But let’s delve even further
Eating whole grains helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure, according to Mayo Clinic physician Sheldon G. Sheps .
- It helps in weight control since whole foods can make you feel full for longer
- Increase your potassium intake, which lowers blood pressure
- Decreases the risk of insulin resistance
- Reduces damage to blood vessels
A study that was funded by the Scottish government and the Food Standards Agency in the UK evaluated the effects of whole grains on blood pressure. There were more than 200 volunteers, some of them ate refined flour and others wholemeal 3 times a day.
They found that those who ate whole grains reduced their blood pressure by 5/6 points. Dr Frank Thies, the leader of the study group, said: “This effect is similar to what one might expect to get from using blood pressure lowering drugs. This drop in systolic blood pressure could potentially decrease the incidence of heart attack and diseases such as stroke by at least 15 to 25%. “
Many fruits are high in potassium, which has been extensively researched for its ability to lower blood pressure.
Potassium is super important to us because it helps balance the electrolytes in our bodies. When you have too much sodium in your body, like eating a salty meal, you start to swell and hold onto water. According to MedIndia “this increases blood volume and puts pressure on the artery walls resulting in high blood pressure”. This makes your heart work harder
If potassium levels are high, these risks will surely be diminished.
Take bananas , for example.
Most people generally think of bananas when they think of potassium. One study actually found that eating two bananas a day for two weeks lowers blood pressure by 10% thanks to the potassium content.
But bananas aren’t the only ones that contain potassium.
Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits, limes, all have minimal amounts of sodium (if any) and contain healthy vitamins and minerals. In fact, oranges alone contain 326 mg of potassium. Dr. Christopher J. Bulpitt said that “hypertension and stroke are more common among people who eat less vitamin C”.
My favorite fruit, avocado, also has 690 mg of potassium.
But potassium isn’t the only help we can give our heart.
Florida State University researchers have studied watermelon for its ability to regulate blood pressure because it contains a lot of L-citrulline, an amino acid that the body converts to L-arginine that improves circulation. They found that watermelon, due to its high L-citrulline, can prevent pre-hypertension from becoming full-blown hypertension.
Additionally, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that anthocyanins , which are “primarily in fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, black currants, eggplants, and blood oranges – appear to protect against high blood pressure. “.
So, more fruit in your diet!
According to the Journal of Hypertension , it has been widely accepted that having a high-fiber diet causes significant reductions in blood pressure. So it’s no wonder the DASH diet encourages followers to consume four to six servings of fiber-filled vegetables per day.
Best are dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale or other vegetables like rocket, fennel, and beets. These can actually reduce blood pressure thanks to the amount of natural nitrates. As LiveStrong explains , when our bodies convert nitrate to nitric oxide our blood vessels open more and become smoother preventing the pressure that causes hypertension.
However, eating any kind of vegetable will be good for your body if it’s not fried, full of butter or full of cheese!
If you’re trying to figure out how to add more vegetables to your diet or how to diversify them try this color chart, it’s cute and functional.
The trick to using dairy products that are not harmful to your body is to make sure you always choose low-fat or fat-free ones.
According to a US News article, researchers from the American Hearth Association found that among 2,000 participants followed for 14 years who ate non-fat yogurt were 31 percent less likely to develop hypertension.
Sure, we know that milk is full of calcium and high in protein, but what may surprise you is that it is low in fat and has magnesium and potassium inside.
According to Dr. Mercola, magnesium can offer these benefits for your heart because it helps to:
- Dilate blood vessels
- Prevent spasms in the heart muscle and blood vessel walls
- Counteracting the action of calcium which increases spasm
- Dissolve blood clots
- Decrease the risk of injury and and prevent arrhythmia
Lean meats, fish and chicken
A Time article points out: “Boneless meat, skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest possible choices among poultry; as for beef, on the other hand, steaks and round roasts, loin, sirloin, shoulder and roasts are the leanest cuts “.
When shopping for ground beef, look for nearly 100% lean.
Fish can be your best choice especially when it comes to salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. These fish are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3s .
According to SFGate , two Harvard professors Dariush Mozaffarian and Eric Rimm, people who consume 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids every week “reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent.”
Nuts, seeds and legumes
All three of these food items are good for you.
Legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas are affordable and plentiful food options that have been staples in diets around the world and are packed with protein, fiber, magnesium, and potassium. Legumes lower the cholesterol level exponentially and with this also the risk of heart attack and hypertension.
Does the DASH diet work?
Yes, friends and friends, the DASH diet works and is a cure-all for those who have long suffered from various chronic health problems such as hypertension. And such a balanced diet , followed for the rest of your life, can give you tremendous benefits. You could throw away a couple of daily pills for sure.
And would you like to try it?
Write me in the comments and let’s talk about it together, I have no doubts, it’s really special!