DASH diet can be defined as dietary approaches of Stopping Hypertension. The diet aims at reducing sodium in the diet while eating foods rich in nutrients which aid lowering blood pressure. The nutrients comprise of magnesium, potassium, and calcium. The DASH diet advocates for the consumption of fruits, low-fat dairy foods, and vegetables, while moderating the use of fish, poultry, nuts and whole grains. Apart from the standard DASH diet where you consume up to 2,300mg of sodium per day, there is a lower sodium DASH diet version, where you consume up to 1500mg of sodium per day. Here are some practical ways to lower blood pressure using the DASH diet.
- Eat 6-8 servings of grains per day
Grains comprises of pasta, rice, cereal, and pieces of bread. However, consume only whole grains instead of refined grains, since they are rich in fiber and nutrients. For example, instead of white rice, use brown rice. Instead of white bread, eat whole grain bread, and whole- wheat pasta rather than regular pasta.
Also, while shopping for cereals, buy those with a 100% whole grain label. Since grains are naturally low in fat, avoid the use of cheese, cream and butter sauces.
- Having 4-5 servings of vegetables per day
Vegetables such as greens, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots and others are rich in vitamins, fiber, and minerals like magnesium and potassium. A single serving of vegetables comprise of a single cup raw leafy vegetables or a half a cup of cut-up or cooked vegetables.
For useful results, you can increase the number of servings that are suitable to you daily. Also, stop using vegetables as a side dish, and instead serve whole grains with a blend of vegetables as your main meal. Additionally, if you are buying frozen or canned vegetables, buy those with low sodium or no added salt label.
- Adopt 4-5 servings of fruits
Similar to vegetables, fruits are rich in magnesium, potassium, fiber and have low fat content. However, coconut is an exception.
If possible, eat a piece of fruit in every meal or take a fruit as your snack. Also, if your fruits have edible peels, leave them if possible. Fruits such as apple, pears, and others that have pits do not only contain healthy nutrients and fiber but also add an attractive texture to recipes.
Nevertheless, consult your doctor when using citrus fruits, such as grapefruits if you are on medication. Besides, only use canned fruits and juices that have no sugar additives.
- Use to 2-3 servings of dairy in a day
Dairy products are primary sources of calcium, protein, and vitamin D. However, use dairy products with low fat, or those that are free of fat since most can be a source of saturated fats. If you have digestion problems, use lactose-free products to reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
- Use six or fewer servings of fish, poultry and lean meat per day
Although meat is a rich source of zinc, iron, proteins and B vitamins. However, use only lean varieties and take less than six ounces in a day.
Whether meat or poultry, ensure you trim fat and skin, and grill, roast, bake or broil rather than frying. Also, eat only heart-healthy fish, like salmon, tuna, and herring. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your cholesterol.
Finally, reduce the consumption of alcohol, as it increases your blood pressure. For men, use a maximum of two drinks in a day, and women one or less.