Can the DASH Diet Improve Your Heart Health?

DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a healthy approach to eating that was designed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to prevent or treat high blood pressure. Although adopting a new diet can be daunting, the DASH diet can help drop your blood pressure and prevent heart disease among other things. With just minor adjustments in your everyday processes, you can begin to see results in a matter of weeks!

dash diet California

What exactly does DASH consist of?

The DASH diet is fairly simple to understand and follow. Basically, fruits and vegetables are the main makeup of your diet, along with some lean protein. However, the diet is very low in red meat, salt, sugars, and fat. 

There are two separate versions of the DASH diet that take into consideration your overall sodium levels. With the standard DASH diet you are allowed up to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. With the lower sodium DASH diet you may only consume up to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. If you are looking to begin this diet, it may be easier to begin with the standard, and work your way into the lower!

What can I eat?

With a focus on fruits and vegetables, you’ll see that they’re in nearly every recipe. One thing to keep in mind is your serving size. However, the general serving model may look a little like this: 

  • Grains (6 to 8 servings a day)
    • Cereal, rice, pasta, etc. 
  • Vegetables (4 to 5 servings a day)
    • Leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, etc. 
  • Fruits (4 to 5 servings a day)
    • Apples, pears, bananas, berries, peaches, etc. (Don’t forget about frozen and canned fruits, or juice!)
  • Dairy (2 to 3 servings a day)
    • Milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, etc.
  • Lean Meat  (6 servings or less a day)
    • Chicken, fish, etc. (Put a focus on broiling or grilling!)
  • Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes (4 to 5 servings a week)
    • Peas, green beans, lentils, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Fats and Oils (2 to 3 servings a day)
    • Salad dressing, margarine, etc.
  • Sweets (5 servings or less a week)
    • Sweeteners, cookies, graham crackers, sorbets, etc. 

In addition to the restrictions above, DASH also recommends restricting your alcohol consumption as it can increase blood pressure. Two drinks per day for men and one drink a day for women are the current guidelines. 

How does DASH help heart health?

Lower blood pressure

Above everything else, the main focus of DASH is to lower your blood pressure. While those who drastically reduced sodium intake saw a further reduction in blood pressure, those that did the standard sodium level diet still saw a vast improvement. While lower blood pressure does not alway mean a decreased risk of heart disease, it is a considerable factor. 

Weight loss

Because the DASH diet does cut out a lot of overly sugary and fatty foods, you may see a loss of weight. In addition, by combining this diet with a calorie restricted eating plan, you may see a greater loss. For those that experience high blood pressure and obesity, maintaining a healthy weight can help heart health. 

Lowers heart disease risk

Based on recent reviews, women following a DASH diet saw a 20% lower risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke. 

As always, before beginning a new diet you should consult with your doctor to learn more about any possible side effects. For more information about heart health, or to learn about any of our procedures, contact The Bethencourt Group at (657) 241-9440 today!