Nutrition

The DASH Diet: Better than drugs

Author: Canadian Living

Nutrition

The DASH Diet: Better than drugs

It appears that a healthy diet is one of the best ways to reduce elevated blood pressure. An eating plan called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet - which includes lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and low-fat dairy products (these are high in calcium, which is thought to fight high blood pressure) and limits meat, sweets, fats and salt - is a viable way to prevent and treat high blood pressure, according to recent research. The DASH diet is also rich in magnesium, potassium, protein and fibre. (For DASH-style recipes see Dine and dash.)

The diet is even more powerful at lowering blood pressure when dieters reduce their sodium intake even more, according to a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health in the United States. The combination appears to have an effect similar to that achieved with antihypertension medications.

Doctors are now recommending that everyone who has high blood pressure, or even those with high normal blood pressure, adopt a DASH-style diet. Dr. Ernesto Schiffrin at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal also recommends that patients eat fish such as salmon, trout or tuna, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, three times a week - a strategy that recent studies suggest may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. He also cautions his patients about large portion sizes, one of the culprits in the current epidemic of obesity, which in turn causes many people to develop high blood pressure.

Dr. Norman Campbell, a professor in the department of medicine at the University of Calgary, points out that the DASH diet is actually very similar to Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating. "A healthy diet has turned out to be one of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure," he says.

For Facts About the DASH Eating Plan, a downloadable booklet that includes sample menus and recipes, check out the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's website at www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Or visit Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating.
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Nutrition

The DASH Diet: Better than drugs

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