High blood pressure affects more than 1 in 3 Americans and is a potentially dangerous chronic condition that often goes unnoticed and can damage the body's organs. Risk of onset rises with age and about 30 % of adults 18 and over show early signs of hypertension, which can get much worse if untreated. Since high blood pressure increases the odds of stroke and heart disease, the DASH diet offers a way that people can protect themselves. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet is light on fats, red meat, and sweets but rich in fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy products. The diet can reduce elevated blood pressure in just two weeks' time, and has also been shown to lower blood pressure among those at risk for hypertension, and lower "bad" cholesterol levels, too. The diet also incorporates fish, poultry, nuts, and whole grains which appears to have even greater blood pressure-lowering benefits when people also consume less salt.
The diet may help women significantly lower their risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Those ladies whose diets most closely resembled DASH were 24 % less likely to develop heart disease and 18 % less likely to have a stroke than those women whose diets strayed most from DASH. The DASH plan can be tailored to meet a person's daily calorie needs, but a sample day's menu, based on 2,000 calories, might include:
6 - 8 servings of whole grains
4 - 5 servings of vegetables
4 - 5 servings of fruits; 2 to 3 servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy products
6 or fewer ounces of lean meats, like poultry or fish
2 to 3 servings of fats and oils
Nuts, seeds, and legumes should be sprinkled in throughout the week, in 4 to 5 servings; and sweets should be limited to 5 or fewer servings per week.