High blood pressure is a health condition that puts a strain on your heart and can lead to a heart attack or stroke if left untreated. The Centers for Disease Control reports that one in three Americans have high blood pressure, but only half of those with high blood pressure have it under control. To help achieve a healthy blood pressure, eating habits are important.
The DASH diet, also known as the “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” is an eating pattern that is rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy and has been proven to lower high blood pressure. In fact, researchers found that people who adopted this eating pattern had a greater improvement in their blood pressure compared to people following the typical American diet or a diet high in just fruits and vegetables, but not dairy. Dairy foods are an important source of potassium, which helps regulate fluids and mineral balance in the body to maintain a healthy blood pressure. These findings have moved the DASH diet to the top of the list of healthy eating patterns that health professionals recommend to patients. The DASH diet has also been ranked as US News Best Diet for Healthy Eating by experts, tied with the Mediterranean diet.
The DASH diet generally recommends eating 4-5 servings of fruits, 4-5 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy each day. It also includes moderate amounts of lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats. Follow these simple tips to incorporate the DASH diet guidelines into your eating habits:
- Snacks consisting of raw fruits and vegetables with a dairy-rich dip are great ways to get in servings of these DASH-friendly food groups. Try Peanut Butter Whip with apples or Creamy Avocado Hummus served with raw vegetables for a satisfying DASH diet snack.
- To get a calcium and protein boost that is good for your blood pressure, choose low-fat milk as your drink of choice at meals.
- Overnight oats, like these Blueberry Flax Overnight Oats, are an easy way to make breakfast a DASH diet delight.
- This Mediterranean Shrimp Sheet Pan Meal is a time-saving trick to make dinner DASH-ing.
This American Heart Month and all year long, give the DASH Diet a go by enjoying more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy to protect your heart.
Shelby Shelby, MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian and sheep farmer in Western Kentucky. Her passion is for sharing reliable messages about nutrition and agriculture that lead to healthy lifestyles.