Hypertension and DASH Diet
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which is the name of the research study that looked at the effects of eating patterns on blood pressure. From this study came the DASH diet—a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods, and low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol. The DASH diet is an example of what is generally considered to be a heart-healthy diet. This diet was shown to significantly reduce blood pressure and is often recommended to people with hypertension.
Effect of DASH Diet on Hypertension
The eating pattern outlined in the DASH diet promotes healthier blood pressure levels (and heart health in general) because of what it includes and excludes.1 Specifically:
- Magnesium, potassium, and calcium all help reduce blood pressure
- B vitamins like folic acid help reduce homocysteine, which plays a role in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- This diet includes little cholesterol and saturated fats, both of which are known to be a threat to heart health
- By discouraging sweets and highly processed snacks ("junk foods"), the diet reduces intake of trans fats, which are known to be a threat to heart health, as well as sugar, which encourages unhealthy spikes in blood sugar and insulin, encouraging the development and worsening of heart disease
How to Use DASH Diet
For more information on the DASH diet, as well as practical tips and how-to's, see the DASH Diet article.
Types of Professionals That Would Be Involved with This Treatment
Modifying your diet is worthwhile, but it can be challenging, especially if you need to make big changes. In addition to consulting with your physician, consider working with a nutritionist, dietitian or health coach to help customize meal plans, find suitable and exciting recipes, and build new, healthy habits.
Side Effects and Warnings
Modifying your diet to make it more healthful should have few, if any, side effects. If you have a serious health condition, consult with your physician or another trusted health provider before you make any drastic changes.
- Rakel, David. (2007). Integrative Medicine. 2nd Ed. Chapter 89: The DASH Diet. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
7/6/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Levitan EB, Wolk A, Mittleman MA. Consistency with the DASH diet and incidence of heart failure. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169:851-857.