What if I told you there is a dietary approach to stop hypertension, and that by watching what you eat you can potentially get off your high blood pressure medication? The DASH diet, or the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, is exactly that. By following just a few dietary habits, you can put yourself on a path to lowering your blood pressure.
- Focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eat 4-5 servings of both fruits and vegetables per day and 6-8 servings of whole grains. Eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products is also encouraged on the DASH diet.
- Limit your sodium consumption to no more than 2300 mg per day. The average American will consume over 3500 mg of sodium per day. Bringing your sodium consumption down to 2300 mg (or even better, down to 1500 mg) per day will help lower your blood pressure. Always check the nutrition labels on your food. Foods that are perceived as healthy may have excessive sodium.
- Limit sweets to 5 servings per week. We all love desserts, but it’s good to limit the amount you eat to no more than one serving per day, but the less you eat the better you will feel.
- Limit alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks per day. Just like sweets, the less alcohol you drink the better off you will be to some extent. There are a few benefits to drinking alcohol in moderation which you can read about here.
I will often see people who are eating otherwise very healthy diets eating way too much sodium. Sometimes perceived healthy foods have far more sodium than we realize. For example, a chicken caesar wrap at a restaurant may have as much as 3500 mg of sodium, three times what you should be eating for an entire day. But if you manage to get your sodium down and you eat plenty of whole foods, then your blood pressure will begin to drop. To read more about the DASH diet, you can visit dashdiet.org.