Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ryan Garbalosa
McLeod Cardiology Associates
One out of every three adult Americans struggle with high blood pressure, clinically called hypertension. Add to those 65 million people another 59 million living with blood pressure approaching the dangerous stage.
“If you don’t control high blood pressure, you may find yourself with a stroke, heart or kidney disease,” says McLeod Cardiologist Dr. Ryan Garbalosa. “Certainly, there are medications and other ways to help lower your blood pressure. But one of the easiest steps you can take is to start the so-called DASH Diet, which stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension.”
Initially developed in the 1990s, the DASH diet’s simplicity makes it increasingly popular. No special foods or complicated recipes. The diet primarily focuses on reducing the amount of sodium (salt) in your diet to 2,300 milligrams a day – about a teaspoon of salt. The average person in the U.S. consumes 3,400 milligrams of salt a day.
STARTING TO DASH
Starting – and staying on – this diet is relatively simple. Follow these tips:
To keep your sodium down to 2,300 milligrams a day, you’ll need to limit the amount of recommended foods you eat to 2,000 calories or less a day.
Studies confirm that the DASH diet lowers blood pressure in anyone – no matter their age, sex, race, body mass index or level of physical activity.
Exercise does play a role in the effectiveness of the DASH diet. Not very active? Eat fewer servings then suggested above. Very active? Maybe you need a few extra servings.
OTHER BENEFTS OF DASH DIET
In addition to lowering your blood pressure and taking strain off your heart, research shows that following the DASH diet also reduces your risk of kidney disease and, with regular exercise you can lose weight, too.
Recommended exercise includes 30-minutes-a-day most days of the week or a total of 150 minutes a week.
When you eat too much sodium in your diet, it triggers calcium to be excreted from the body. Lack of calcium affects bone health and strength.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
Know your blood pressure. Easy-to-use blood pressure machines can be purchased at your pharmacy. If the top number on your blood pressure is higher than 120, see your personal physician or a cardiologist.
To learn more about the lowering your blood pressure and DASH Diet, click here.
Find a Cardiologist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, US National Library of Medicine, American Heart Association, American Journal of Kidney Disease, American Chemical Society, and National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute