Posts Tagged ‘lower blood pressure’

Seniors in Shorewood follow the DASH diet

The DASH diet is making news and with good reason. It is bringing down the blood pressures of many many people. By following the DASH diet, a person can  reduce blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks. Over time, blood pressure could drop by eight to 14 points, and this can make a significant difference in health risks.

According to mayo clinic, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The plan calls for reduced sodium in the diet and says to eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition, it emphasizes portion size, eating a variety of foods and getting the right amount of nutrients.

This eating plan received the top ranking from an expert panel in US New & World Reports published in June, 2011 (dashdiet.org), and it is endorsed by the American Heart Association, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (one of the National Institutes of Health, of the US Department of Health and Human Services), and a host of other respected health organizations.

Because the DASH diet is a healthy way of eating, it offers health benefits besides lowering blood pressure. It may offer protection against osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. And while the DASH diet is not a weight-loss program, many people do lose unwanted pounds because it offers guidance toward healthier meals and snacks.

In a nutshell, the DASH eating plan advocates food choices that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat. Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole-grain products, nuts, poultry, and fish are strongly promoted. The diet also includes some fish, poultry and legumes. You can eat red meat, sweets and fats in small amounts.

Adopting the DASH, or any life-prolonging eating plan, requires a commitment to living it, not dabbling in it. The best likelihood of success is making the changeover gradually. According to netplaces.com, the following suggestions are in keeping with the DASH diet:

  • Cut back meat portions by a third or half.
  • Use more vegetables, pasta, and beans, and cut back meat in one-dish meals like stir-fry or casseroles.
  • Have a couple of vegetarian meals each week.
  • Add a serving of vegetables to lunch and dinner.
  • Make substitutions to get to three fat-free or low-fat dairy servings a day such as skim milk instead of soda or wine.
  • Eat fruit for a snack or add it to a meal.

Grains include bread, cereal, rice and pasta. Focus on whole grains. For instance, use brown rice instead of white rice, whole-wheat pasta instead of regular pasta and whole-grain bread instead of white bread. Grains are naturally low in fat, so avoid spreading on butter or adding cream and cheese sauces.

Tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, greens and other vegetables are full of fiber and vitamins. A hearty blend of vegetables served over brown rice or whole-wheat noodles can serve as the main dish for a meal. When buying frozen and canned vegetables, choose those labeled as low sodium or without added salt.

Like vegetables, fruits are packed with fiber, potassium and magnesium and are typically low in fat. Exceptions include avocados and coconuts. Leave on edible peels whenever possible. Citrus fruits and juice, such as grapefruit, can interact with certain medications, so check with the doctor or pharmacist to see if they’re OK.

Choose dairy products that are low-fat or fat-free. Low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt can help boost the amount of dairy products while offering a sweet treat. Go easy on regular and even fat-free cheeses because they are typically high in sodium.

Don’t make meats a mainstay. Cut back typical meat portions by one-third or one-half and pile on the vegetables instead. Examples of one serving include 1 oz. cooked skinless poultry, seafood or lean meat, 1 egg, or 1 oz. water-packed, no-salt-added canned tuna. Trim away skin and fat from meat and then broil, grill, roast or poach instead of frying. Eat heart-healthy fish, such as salmon, herring and tuna.

The DASH diet provides 30 percent or less of daily calories from fat with a focus on the healthier unsaturated fats. Saturated fat and trans fat are the main dietary culprits in raising cholesterol and increasing the risk of coronary artery disease. Trans fat are found in processed food such as crackers, baked goods and fried items. DASH helps keep daily saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total calories by limiting use of meat, butter, cheese, whole milk, cream and eggs, along with foods made from lard, solid shortenings, and palm and coconut oils.

As for sweets, don’t banish them, but go easy. Choose fat-free or low-fat sweets such as sorbets, fruit ices, jelly beans, hard candy, graham crackers or low-fat cookies.

New research shows that following the DASH diet over time will reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease as well as kidney stones. The benefits of the DASH diet have also been seen in teens with hypertension. The DASH diet truly is a  diet for everyone.

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