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UNLOCKING HEART HEALTH: EXPLORING THE DASH DIET



WHAT IS DASH DIET?

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, developed in the 1990s, serves as a guideline for healthy eating practices. It’s intended to help individuals lower their blood pressure. The DASH diet, which emphasises nourishing foods and a well-rounded diet, has gained popularity for its effectiveness in improving overall health and addressing the challenges of hypertension. 


GUIDELINES OF DASH DIET

The DASH diet promotes a well-balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and dairy, as well as an emphasis on micronutrients. It recommends limiting sodium intake to about 1500 mg per day and consuming fresh, minimally processed foods. 


For individuals adhering to the DASH diet, a typical daily serving guide might include: 

  • Vegetables: Approximately 5 servings

  • Fruit: Around 5 portion

  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 7 servings

  • Low-fat dairy products: Approximately 2 servings

  • Lean meat products: 2 or fewer servings

  • Nuts and seeds: 2 to 3 times per week


When opting for foods within the DASH framework, prioritise those that are low in saturated and trans fats, high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fibre, and protein, and low in sodium. 


Let’s dive deeper into these recommendations:

  • Carbohydrates

    • Carbs in our diet consist primarily of cellulose and scratches. While the body cannot digest cellulose, it is necessary for its presence in plant fiber. Healthy starches, or “carbs”, are essential not only for energy but also for providing protective micronutrients. Avoiding low-carb diets is recommended as they can result in insufficient caloric intake or the consumption of unhealthy fats instead. Health carbohydrates in the DASH diet include:

      • Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach

      • Whole grains like cracked wheat and oats

      • Fruits with a low glycemic index including grapefruits, pears and berries

      • Legumes and beans like peanuts, chickpeas, soybeans

  • Fats

    • Recent research provides more insight into the complex role of fats, which were previously viewed as a health concern. There are now distinctions between “good” fats, which reduce inflammation, provide essential fatty acids, and improve overall health and “bad” fats, which contribute to health problems such as atherogenesis. Good fats comprise olive oil, avocados, nuts and omega-3-rich fish, whereas bad fats such as margarine and certain vegetable oils should be avoided. MODERATION is key when consuming fats due to their high energy density. 

  • Protein

    • DASH suggest prioritising plant proteins like legumes, soy, nuts, and seeds while limiting animal proteins like lean meats, low-fat dairy, eggs, and fish. Processed and cured meats are not recommended due to their association with hypertension and carcinogens.


Furthermore, the DASH diet emphasises the importance of consuming foods high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium which promote endothelial function and smooth muscle relaxation. 

  • Potassium: Bananas and oranges

  • Calcium: Leafy green and dairy 

  • Magnesium: whole grains, nuts, and seeds



WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PRACTISING THE DASH DIET?

Individuals who practice the principles of the DASH diet can adopt a dietary approach that not only benefits cardiovascular health but also promotes overall well-being and vitality. For example, it can help to lower high blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, aid in weight loss efforts, and reduce the risk of developing conditions such as Type 2 diabetes mellitus and heart disease. Besides that, by prioritising nutrient-dense foods and healthy eating habits, individuals can enhance their overall well-being and reduce the risk of chronic illness. 


In short, the DASH diet emerges as an effective dietary strategy for improving heart health and overall wellness. By adhering to its principles, individuals can unlock numerous benefits, including lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, facilitated weight loss and lower risks of conditions such as Type 2 diabetes mellitus and heart disease. Moreover, by focusing on nutrient-dense foods and adopting healthy eating habits, individuals can improve their vitality and resilience to chronic diseases. Therefore, the DASH diet serves as an inspiration for hope, guiding individuals down a path of long-term health and well-being. 




REFERENCES

Challa, H. J., & Uppaluri, K. R. (2023, January 23). DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Nih.gov; StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482514/


Filippou, C. D., Tsioufis, C. P., Thomopoulos, C. G., Mihas, C. C., Dimitriadis, K. S., Sotiropoulou, L. I., Chrysochoou, C. A., Nihoyannopoulos, P. I., & Tousoulis, D. M. (2020). Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet and Blood Pressure Reduction in Adults with and without Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Advances in Nutrition, 11(5), 1150–1160. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmaa041


Garcia-Rios, A., Ordovas, J. M., Lopez-Miranda, J., & Perez-Martinez, P. (2018). New diet trials and cardiovascular risk. Current Opinion in Cardiology, 33(4), 423–428. https://doi.org/10.1097/hco.0000000000000523



NIH. (2021b, December 29). DASH Eating Plan | NHLBI, NIH. Nih.gov. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan


Onvani, S., Haghighatdoost, F., & Azadbakht, L. (2015). Dietary approach to stop hypertension (DASH): diet components may be related to lower prevalence of different kinds of cancer: A review on the related documents. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 20(7), 707–713. https://doi.org/10.4103/1735-1995.166233


Urrico, P. (2018). Nonpharmacological Interventions in the Management of Hypertension in the Adult Population With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 42(2), 196–198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjd.2018.02.004 



@iGLOW SDN BHD

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