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DASH Diet for Lowering Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can lurk beneath the surface with no identifiable symptoms, but could eventually lead to heart complications, stroke, or even death. That is why monitoring and managing your blood pressure is an important aspect of maintaining your overall health. The DASH, or Dietary Approaches to StopHypertension, diet is a heart-healthy eating plan that has been proven to assist in lowering blood pressure.

Risk Factors for Developing High Blood Pressure

For the majority of individuals that experience high blood pressure, there is no known cause. However, an individual may experience high blood pressure due to an underlying condition. This would be referred to as secondary hypertension. Although there typically is not an identifiable cause, there are some risk factors that have been identified that contribute to the development of high blood pressure.

●     Age. As you age, so will your risk for developing high blood pressure.

●     Tobacco Use. Any tobacco products will increase your risk for developing high blood pressure, but can also damage the walls of your arteries.

●     Alcohol Use. Binge-drinking or over consumption of alcohol can cause heart damage, affecting your blood pressure.

●     Stress. Stress can cause your blood pressure to rise, although it is usually temporary. However, stress can be comorbid with other risk factors that elevate your blood pressure.

●     Physical Activity. Inactivity can lead to obesity, as well as your heart having to work harder to pump your blood throughout your body.

●     Salt. An increase in salt intake will cause your blood pressure to rise.

What Constitutes High Blood Pressure?

According to the CDC, high blood pressure or hypertension, is considered when your blood pressure shows readings that are consistently higher than normal. But, what is normal? Normal blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association, is when your systolic reading is less than 120mmHg and your diastolic is less than 80mmHg. The only way to know whether or not you have high blood pressure is to measure your blood pressure.

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What is The DASH Eating Plan?

The DASH eating plan is a recommended diet for those that want help in preventing or helping to reverse hypertension, as well as reduce their risk of associated disease. The diet primarily focuses on the consumption of fruits and vegetables, after a study was conducted that showed vegans and vegetarians had lower rates of high blood pressure. While the diet is firmly rooted in fruits and veggies, it does also allot for some lean protein. This includes chicken and fish. Healthier fats, like beans and nuts, are encouraged.Sugar, sodium, and saturated fats are limited as part of the diet.

DASH diet pyramid

Why DASH? 

Before starting any diet or meal plan, it is imperative to speak with your primary care doctor or medical professional. This is because your medical history or current conditions could play a role in how the diet affects you. DASH does not have any real restrictions when it comes to meal planning, but instead has individuals rely on recommendations. This means the meal plan is flexible and can be adjusted to fit an individual’s own unique needs, dietary restrictions, and health goals.

Other Potential Benefits

While the DASH diet is specifically designed to help lower blood pressure, it can also provide you with other benefits as well.

Aids Weight Loss

Since this healthy eating plan cuts out high-fat and very sugary foods, you could find yourself losing weight while taking part in the diet. This is typically coinciding with a calorie deficit, whether as part of the DASH diet or an additional plan. While the DASH diet isn’t designed for massive weight loss, it can aid in the process, especially when combined with an exercise regimen.

Lowers Your Risk of Diabetes

High blood pressure is one of the primary risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. Lowering your blood pressure with the DASH diet can then, in turn, help lower your associated risk for developing Type2 diabetes.

Lowers Your Risk of HeartDisease

High blood pressure can lead to many consequences, some even being fatal. Lowering your blood pressure lowers your risk for developing heart disease, as less pressure is put on your heart and artery walls.

DASH Meal Planning: What to Eat

The DASH diet does not recommend specific meal plans for individuals to follow. Instead, the plan lists out the different food groups. This allows you the flexibility to control how much you consume, as well as what foods you would like to eat within that group to support your goals. The DASH diet typically recommends that no more than 1 teaspoon of salt be consumed daily. This is equivalent to the daily value, which is 2,300mg per day. However, there is also a low salt version of the DASH diet, which recommends 1,300mg per day. Before engaging in a diet or restricting your salt intake, it is imperative that you speak with your primary care physician or medical professional. Your medical professional will provide you with an individualized assessment, as well as go over your medical history, and will determine if a meal plan is an option for you.

Serving sizes will vary depending on what food you are consuming, so you will need to check the serving size listed for that product in the Daily Values section.

●     Whole Gains: 6 to 8 Servings Daily

●     Vegetables: 4 to 5 Servings Daily

●     Fruits: 4 to 5 Servings Daily

●     Dairy: 2 to 3 Servings Daily 

●     Lean Meat: 6 or Fewer Servings Weekly  

●     Nuts, Seeds, Legumes: 4 to 5 Servings Weekly

●     Fats and Oils: 2 to 3 Servings Daily

●     Added sugars: 5 or Fewer Weekly

SmartBP: A Smarter Way to Manage Your Blood Pressure

SmartBP, a blood pressure measurement tool compatible with Google Fit and Apple Health, provides you with a way to record, track, and analyze trends regarding your blood pressure. The information will be presented to you right at your fingertips, conveniently through your smartphone or mobile device. SmartBP gives you the power to visualize quickly what is and isn’t working for your blood pressure management. Lean into technology and start taking control of your health.

About the Author

Pranam Shetty
I am the founder and CEO of Evolve Medical Systems. We are a Digital Health Company that specializes in mobile health apps. Some of our apps include SmartBP - a mobile based blood pressure management tool and Glucobyte a diabetes management app. I am an engineer by trade and love to build stuff. I have built various medical devices over 20 years. I live in Minneapolis - The coldest city with the warmest people!
I am the founder and CEO of Evolve Medical Systems. We are a Digital Health Company that specializes in mobile health apps. Some of our apps include SmartBP - a mobile based blood pressure management tool and Glucobyte a diabetes management app. I am an engineer by trade and love to build stuff. I have built various medical devices over 20 years. I live in Minneapolis - The coldest city with the warmest people!

Important: The information provided is NOT a substitute for a doctor or professional healthcare or advice. Any health related information provided in SmartBP® app and this website is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the advice of healthcare professionals.

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