Steven and Chris

Hypertension and the DASH Diet

High blood pressure is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems -- such as heart disease. The best diet for someone who has hypertension is called the DASH diet.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. In this diet the pattern of eating is very similar to that suggested by the guidelines in Canada's Food Guide, which focuses on eating healthy foods, including your vegetables, fruits, and milk.

Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetables and fruit are foods that give us fibre, plus they are naturally higher in potassium and lower in sodium which helps to lower hypertension. The DASH diet study has shown that eating eight to ten servings of vegetables and fruit helps in reducing high blood pressure. One serving of vegetables is equal to half a cup of cooked veggies or one cup leafy or raw salad vegetables. A serving of fruit includes one medium fruit, half a cup of fresh fruit, or four ounces of juice.

Milk

Milk products combined with eight to ten servings of vegetables and fruit has been shown to reduce blood pressure twice as much compared to a diet that is only high in vegetables and fruit. This shows the importance of a balanced diet with foods from different food groups. The combination of nutrients in milk products make them effective in reducing high blood pressure. Milk products provide nutrients like potassium, magnesium and calcium which are all great in fighting hypertension. Also, milk products contain bioactive peptides -- a special type of protein that seems to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure.

The DASH diet recommends three servings of milk products every day as part of a healthy diet. A serving is equal to a cup of milk or three quarters of a cup (175 grams) of yogurt. Most single-serve containers of yogurt are only 100 grams -- so you need almost two of them to get one serving of milk products.

Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes

Nuts are an important part of the DASH diet because they provide key heart-healthy nutrients like magnesium and fibre -- but make sure they are unsalted.

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