Effective Hypertension Management: All About the DASH Diet

Effective Hypertension Management: All About the DASH Diet

High blood pressure 一 officially known as hypertension 一 affects an estimated 120 million Americans. Unfortunately, though, only about one-quarter of those people (that’s about 27 million) have their hypertension under control.  

Considering that untreated and undermanaged hypertension can contribute to serious cardiac events, such as heart attacks, that statistic can be jarring.

The good news is that you don’t need invasive surgery to get your blood pressure under control. In fact, lifestyle changes like diet and exercise are the first line of defense against hypertension. 

In honor of Hypertension Awareness Month, Dr. Rogers Walker and the Walker Family Care team in Little River, South Carolina, are shining the spotlight on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and how it can help you manage hypertension.

What is the DASH diet?

The DASH diet focuses on eating nutrient-rich foods that are low in sodium, saturated fats, and cholesterol. It promotes the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. 

This balanced eating plan is designed to lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

But does it work?

Yes! The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute  highlighted three studies that show just how powerful the DASH diet can be. The two key takeaways include:

The DASH diet isn’t limited to improving your blood pressure levels. It can also help you lose weight (if needed), improve your blood sugar levels, lower your cholesterol levels, improve your heart health, and reduce body-wide inflammation.

Elements of the DASH diet

Now that you’ve learned what the DASH diet is, let’s explore the key elements of what makes the DASH diet so effective.

Eat more whole foods

The DASH diet isn’t about trendy diets or questionable supplements. It’s about eating real, unprocessed food, specifically:

 

Ideally, aim for at least five servings of fruits and five servings of vegetables and up to eight servings of whole grains per day. This alone helps provide the fiber you need to lower your blood pressure. 

Limit your sodium intake

Sodium can pull more water into your bloodstream (and then raise your blood pressure), which is why limiting your sodium intake is one of the key elements of the DASH diet, and it’s one element that sets it apart from other healthy diets. 

You need sodium. You just don’t need too much. The standard DASH diet recommends about one teaspoon of salt per day  一 that’s about 2,300 milligrams. Some people adhere to an even lower limit of 1,500 milligrams per day. 

Avoid processed food

The best way to increase your intake of whole foods and reduce your sodium intake is to cut (or least greatly reduce) processed foods. Heavily processed and refined foods tend to be high in fat and sodium. 

Focus on your drinks too

Drinking enough (about 64 ounces of water) can help support healthy blood pressure levels. Because the DASH diet limits sweets to five one-tablespoon servings per week, avoid overly sweet beverages, including coffees, sodas, and teas, that may tip you over your limit quickly. 

Take action against hypertension this May

There’s no denying that adopting healthy eating patterns is good for your blood pressure (and your whole body), but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Exercising, practicing good sleep hygiene, and managing stress can also help manage your blood pressure.

In some cases, though, you may need help lowering your blood pressure, and that’s okay. That’s because some risk factors are outside of your control. 

If you’re concerned about your blood pressure, give us a call at 843-280-8333. Our team can check your blood pressure levels, provide lifestyle guidance, and if needed, Dr Walker can prescribe medication to safely lower your blood pressure.

To schedule your appointment, click here.

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