Are you scared you might have some blood pressure concerns? Here’s good news! Science has come up with a special diet that is designed to help prevent or even treat high blood pressure. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an effective way to maintain healthy blood pressure. Why is it recommended? It’s backed by science and simple. Just veer away from too much sodium and consume a variety of potassium, calcium, and magnesium-rich foods that lower blood pressure.
Why should you care about blood pressure level when if you’re young?
Your circulatory system and overall health will benefit from maintaining a healthy blood pressure. It’s important to understand that as you grow older, your blood pressure will naturally rise. This causes your heart to work harder pumping nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to your whole body. Blood flows through arteries as it goes to different parts of the body. As you age, your arteries become less elastic. When they’re stiff, heart muscles become thicker and grow weaker; pumping blood will be too hard for them. This may damage arteries and cause not enough blood to get to your organs. When this happens, organs will malfunction, then they’ll be damaged. A damaged brain may cause a stroke, a damaged heart may cause a heart attack, and damaged kidneys may lead to kidney failure.
By following a DASH diet, you can help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Here are eight ways to follow the DASH diet easily.
1. Vegetables (4 to 5 servings per day)
Veggies are full of vitamins, fiber, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. It’s highly recommended to consume broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, greens and other veggies daily to maximize DASH.
One serving may include: a.1 cup raw leafy green vegetables b. 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables.
a. Treat veggies as main dishes and not just side dishes. A big serving of mix vegetables served with brown rice or whole-wheat noodles can serve as the main dish for a meal.
b. Fresh or frozen vegetables — it doesn’t matter. Both are good choices.
c. Be wise; buy frozen and canned vegetables that are labeled as low sodium or no salt added. You can be creative. Here’s a tip on how you can add up more servings to your daily serving. For example, in a stir-fry, you can minimize the amount of meat (put in just a third and increase the amount of vegetables by 50%.
2. Fruits (4 to 5 servings per day)
A lot of fruits need a little time to prepare to be a part of a healthy meal. They’re full of fiber, potassium, and magnesium, and contain low fat — except for coconuts.
One serving can include one medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit, or 4 ounces of juice.
a. Spice up your meals with a piece of fruit. You can take another as a snack. Fill up your day with fresh fruits as dessert. Add up a dollop of low-fat yogurt to complete your dessert.
b. Make it a point whenever appropriate to leave on edible peels. The peels of pears, apples and many fruits with pits add up texture to recipes and most contain healthy fiber and nutrients.
c. Some medications may interact with grape juice and other juices, and many citrus fruits, so it’s wise to consult your doctor about this.
3. Grains (6 to 8 servings per day)
Cereal, bread, pasta, and rice — all of these are grains. One serving may include 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta, 1 slice whole-wheat bread, or 1 ounce dry cereal.
a. Focus on whole grains; they have more fiber and nutrients compared to refined grains. For example, choose brown rice over white rice, whole-wheat pasta over regular pasta, and whole-grain bread over white bread. Choose products labeled “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.”
b. Naturally, grains are low in fat content. Keep them that way by not adding butter, cream or cheese sauces.
4. Fish, Poultry, and Lean Meat (6 servings or fewer per day)
Meat is a rich source of B vitamins, iron, zinc, and protein. Pick a variety of lean meat and target no more than 6 ounces per day. Minimizing your meat intake will make room for more veggies.
a.Take away fat and skin from poultry and meat and instead of frying, bake, broil, grill, or roast. This will minimize fat from your diet.
b. Also, eat meals with heart-healthy fish like herring, salmon, or tuna. These are fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. They can lower your total cholesterol levels.
5. Dairy (2 to 3 servings per day)
Cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products are good sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. However, the key is to make sure you pick products that are low fat or fat-free, for the simple reason that they can fill you up with mostly saturated fat. One serving may include 1 percent milk or 1 cup skim, 1 cup yogurt (low fat), or 1 & 1/2 ounces cheese (part-skim).
a. Low-fat/fat-free frozen yogurt may help you boost the amount of dairy products you take in and you can enjoy a sweet treat after meals. You may add a piece of fruit for variety.
b. If, like me, you have a problem digesting dairy products, pick lactose-free products or you can try taking an over-the-counter product that contains lactase which can reduce or help prevent lactose intolerance.
c. Go easy on regular and even fat-free cheeses. They typically contain high levels of sodium.
6. Fats and oils (2 to 3 servings per day)
Fat assists the body to absorb essential vitamins and helps the immune system. However, too much fat heightens the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The DASH diet aims for a balance by limiting body fat content to a total of less than 30% of daily calories from fat, focusing on healthier fats that are monounsaturated.
One serving may include 1 teaspoon soft margarine, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise or 2 tablespoons salad dressing.
a. Avoid saturated fat and trans fat. They’re the main dietary culprits in increasing your body’s risk of having coronary artery disease. DASH assists in keeping your daily saturated fat to less than 6% of your total calories by limiting portions of meat, butter, cheese, whole milk, cream, and eggs in your diet. It also limits foods made from lard, solid shortenings, palm, and coconut oils.
b. Stay away from trans fat, commonly found in such processed foods like crackers, baked goods. and fried items.
c. make sure to read food labels of margarine and salad dressing. This way, you can pick those that have the lowest levels of saturated fat and those that are free of trans fat.
7. Nuts, seeds and legumes (4 to 5 servings a week)
Almonds, kidney beans, sunflower seeds, lentils, peas, and other foods in this family are great sources of magnesium, protein, and potassium. They’re also packed with fiber and phytochemicals: plant compounds that may protect against some cancers and cardiovascular disease.
Suggested serving portions are small and are to be consumed only a few times every week due to the fact that these foods have high calories. One serving may include 2 tablespoons seeds, 1/3 cup nuts, or 1/2 cup cooked beans or peas.
a. Nuts at times solicit negative talk because of their fat content. However, they contain fats that are healthy; these are monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. They may be high in calories, so you must take them in moderation. You can throw them into stir-fries, salads, or cereals.
b. Soybean-based products, like tofu and tempeh may be a good meat substitute because they contain amino acids that your body needs to make a complete protein, just like meat.
8. Sweets (5 servings or fewer every week)
You don’t have to delete sweets entirely from your world while following the DASH diet, just take them in moderation. One serving may include 1 tablespoon jelly, jam, or sugar, 1/2 cup sorbet, or 1 cup lemonade.
a. When eating sweets, choose the ones that are fat-free or low-fat, like sorbets, fruit ices, jelly beans, hard candy, graham crackers, or low-fat cookies.
b.Use artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) sensibly even if they can help spare sugar. It’s fine to swap a diet cola for a regular cola, but remember it’s still better to down nutritious beverage like low-fat milk or better yet, plain water.
c. Reduce your intake of added sugar. They don’t have nutritional value and contain more calories.
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