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DASH diet: Healthy eating to control blood pressure

dash diet


Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure,  is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. If this condition is left untreated, it may eventually cause other serious health problems such as heart disease. Narrowing arteries with  high resistance increase blood pressure. The excessive pressure on artery walls caused by high blood pressure can further damage blood vessels and other organs. More importantly, high blood pressure often causes atherosclerosis defined as hardening and thickening of the arteries which can eventually lead to serious complications such as heart attack, stroke and aneurysm.

 

To control blood pressure more efficiently, dietary modifications largely play a major role in lowering blood pressure. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is considered as a lifelong approach to healthy eating that is designed to help treating or preventing  high blood pressure. If the DASH diet approach is strictly followed, it also substantially reduces the risks of heart diseases.


 

Get to know DASH diet



Main emphasis of The DASH diet is to encourage the reduction in  the consumption of sodium and saturated fat in diet while eating a variety of foods rich in nutrients and elements that help decrease blood pressure which include fiber, magnesium, potassium and calcium. This dietary approach strives to effectively control blood pressure with decreased risks of heart diseases. Recent medical researches reveal that The DASH diet significantly reduces blood pressure and blood cholesterol.

 

Principles of the DASH diet



The DASH diet is flexible and balanced eating plans which include:


  • Lowering sodium intake: consumption must be strictly limited up to only 1,500 mg of sodium a day.
  • Limiting saturate fat.
  • Consumption of low-fat diets.
  • Eating fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
  • Consuming moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
  • Drinking low-fat or fat-free milk.
  • Avoiding eating red meat, sweets and desserts. Alcoholic beverages must be also avoided.
  • Avoid consumption of canned products such as canned-fruit.
  • Calorie intake should not exceed 2,000 calories per day.
 
dash diet
 

The DASH diet program in a day



Example of the food proportion of the DASH diet with less than 2,000 calories per day consists of:

 

Food and proportion

Examples

Recommendations

Vegetables

 

4-5 portions a day

  • Fresh  vegetables
  • Cooked vegetables

1 portion of vegetables is equal to

  • 2 cups of fresh vegetables
  • 1 cup of cooked vegetables

Fruits

 

4-5 portions a day

  • All fresh fruits
  • Dried fruits

1 portion of fruits is equal to

  • 1 small fruit (fresh)
  • ¼ spoon of dried   fruits

Whole grains and rice

 

6-8 portions a day

  • Whole grains, rice
  • Oat or millet
  • Whole wheat bread

1 portion of grains  is equal to

  • 1 cup of steamed rice
  • 1 cup of cooked grains
  • 1 slice of bread

Low-fat dairy products

 

2-3 portions a day

  • Semi-skimmed milk
  • Non-fat milk

1 portion of low-fat milk is equal to

  • 1 serving cup of low-fat milk
  • 1 serving cup of low-fat yoghurt

Meat and poultry

 

 

3-6 portions a day

  • Fish meat
  • Non-fatty meat

1 portion of meat is equal to

  • 2 spoons of non-fatty meat (cooked)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks

Nuts and seeds

 

 

1 portion a day

  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Lentils, peas, legumes, soybeans
  • Cashew nuts
  • Sunflower seeds

1 portion of nuts is equal to

  • 5 spoons of hard shell nuts
  • 2 spoons of grains
  • 8 spoons of dried nuts

Sweets

 

 

5 portions a week or less

 

1 portion of sweets is equal to

  • 1 spoon of sugar
  • 1 spoon of jam

** Should avoid taking regularly.



Recommendations made by world-leading institute like American Heart Association highly advise that regular DASH diet significantly reduce blood pressure and cholesterol as well as LDL. It substantially contributes to the reduced risks of heart diseases and other serious conditions. In addition, to control triglyceride level efficiently, frequent consumption of  deep-sea fish containing high omega-3 is also suggested. More importantly, blood pressure could be further controlled by other lifestyle modifications such as regular exercising and weight reduction if obese as well as annual health check-ups.