13470 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • DASH Diet Helps Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

    IMAGE Your risk of high blood pressure increases as you get older. But simple dietary changes can help maintain healthy blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure related health problems.

    Pressure-Related Problems

    Your blood pressure is usually recorded as two numbers, for example 120/80. The upper number, or systolic pressure, measures the force in your blood vessels when your heart contracts. The lower number, or diastolic pressure, represents the force while your heart rests between beats. Though both pressures may fluctuate, pressures should normally stay below 120/80. Accurate readings on several occasions of 140/90 or higher mean that you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
    Hypertension is a risk factor for many serious conditions, like coronary heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Fortunately, certain dietary steps may ward off many of these complications.

    A DASH of Prevention

    In 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published the results of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study. DASH researchers found that adults can reduce their blood pressure by eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. Study results showed that the DASH diet works as effectively as some blood pressure medications. Today, the NIH recommends the DASH diet for adults of all ages who want to reduce blood pressure.

    Eating the DASH Diet

    For a person who eats 2,000 kilocalories a day, the DASH diet calls for:
    • Grains: 6-8 servings each day
    • Vegetables: 4-5 servings each day
    • Fruits: 4-5 servings each day
    • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 servings each day
    • Meats, poultry, eggs, and fish: no more than 6 servings each day
    • Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 4-5 servings each week
    • Fats and oils: 2-3 servings each day
    • Sweets: no more than 5 servings a week

    Salt Sense

    Results from the second phase of the DASH study completed in 2000 (called DASH-Sodium) indicate that cutting salt intake is another effective way to lower blood pressure. After 14 weeks of monitoring 412 adults on six different diets, researchers found that those who consumed a DASH diet with only 1,150 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day had the biggest improvement in their blood pressures.
    On this diet, people with and without hypertension had significant reductions in blood pressure. Those with hypertension saw their blood pressures drop even more. The researchers concluded that eating less salt may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure as you grow older.

    RESOURCES

    American Heart Association http://www.heart.org

    The DASH Diet http://dashdiet.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.ca

    References

    Chronic kidney disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 14, 2014. Accessed January 31, 2014.

    DASH diet. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 3, 2013. Accessed January 31, 2014.

    Hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 22, 2014. Accessed January 31, 2014.

    Lin PH, Aickin M, Champagne C, et al. Food group sources of nutrients in the dietary patterns of the DASH-Sodium trial. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003;103(4):488-496.

    Prevention of stroke. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 13, 2013. Accessed January 31, 2014.

    Sacks FM, Svetkey LP, et al. Effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. DASH-Sodium Collaborative Research Group. N Engl J Med. 2001 Jan 4;344(1):3-10.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.