Studies by scientists supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) have proved that a diet low in cholesterol, saturated fat, total fat and fat free or low fat milk and milk products plus fruits and vegetables help in lowering blood pressure. They named this diet the DASH eating plan.
By lowering the saturated fat and cholesterol content the diet promotes the healthy functioning of the heart. This diet is rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, protein and fibre, low in sodium, and fat.
The lower your sodium (salt intake) the lower is your blood pressure. Dietary salt increases blood pressure in most people with hypertension and in about quarter of those with normal pressure especially as one grows older.
This diet has no negative side effects. The main message of this diet is very simple. It advocates the use of fresh fruits and vegetables and low fat dairy products. It recommends a reduced intake of red meats and sweets. By eating foods rich in potassium the sodium intake is effectively lowered. However, potassium from natural sources and not from supplementation is recommended. It is also recommended that foods rich in calcium maintain normal blood pressure. New studies in calcium intake have shown that people with a low calcium intake seem to be at an increased risk for hypertension.
It is an easy to follow diet plan with enormous benefits to control and decrease high blood pressure. Many researchers have affirmed the benefits of the DASH diet through various studies and have found a significant lowering of blood pressure even in the susceptible group of Afro-Americans. However it may also be important that the DASH eating plan should evolve to become a lifelong system of healthy eating habits for it to have a long lasting benefit on patients with high blood pressure.
Do not stop your blood pressure medication without consulting your physician even after you begin the DASH diet. Exercise and decrease your stress levels to control your hypertension.