The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)is an initiative promoted by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)and it aims at prevention & control of high blood pressure. It is a well balanced and flexible diet pattern which helps improve blood pressure in high risk as well as in known hypertensive individuals.
Highlights of the DASH Plan:
- Low Sodium Diet: DASH plan recommends use of 2300 milligrams or less sodium (a teaspoonful of salt) throughout the day. Only 1500 milligrams of sodium (3 grams of salt) is recommended to those who already have high blood pressure or diabetes or those who are elderly. Herbs and spices can be used instead of sodium to flavor the dishes.
- Low fat Diet: DASH plan suggests minimal use of fats and restriction of dietary cholesterol (animal fat). Saturated fats (fats which turn solid at room temperature i.e. ghee, butter, vanaspati etc.) should also be avoided. Lean meat and low fat dairy products (skimmed milk and its products) can be included in the diet.
- No sugar diet: All simple sugars (cane sugar, jaggery etc) and sweets must be restricted. Sugary beverages, syrups, carbonated drinks etc. also need to be avoided.
- High Fiber Diet: Foods rich in fiber such as all fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, whole grains have to be included in the diet.
- Diet rich in Omega 3 fats: Omega 3 fats are heart friendly. Thus foods such as fish, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds can be included in daily routine.
- Potassium rich diet: Dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, coconut water etc. are potassium rich foods. These foods can be taken liberally.
- Alcohol: DASH plan recommends limiting alcohol consumption to 2 or fewer drinks a day for men and one or less for women.
In Summary, the DASH diet plan includes:
|Type of food||
Servings on a 1500 Calorie diet
|Grains and grain products
(include at least 3 whole grain foods each day)
|Low fat or non fat dairy foods||
|Lean meats, fish, poultry||
Less than 2
|Nuts, seeds, and legumes||
3-4 per week
|Fats and sweets||