The relationship between nutrition and health is indisputable. However, with countless resources offering advice it is important to select a plan backed by healthcare professionals.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH was initiated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and is scientifically proven to reduce high blood pressure and improve heart health. Recently, it was named the best overall diet plan by the U.S. News and World Report due to its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent and manage diabetes and its support of heart health. This sensible approach to health and weight management has made it a health professional favourite since its induction over a decade ago.
DASH promotes balanced, whole foods and is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fibre. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains, fish and poultry. Healthy fats from oils, nuts and seeds are included in moderation. The diet is designed to be low in saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and sodium. For easy navigation, the DASH plan includes specific portion sizes.
DASH has been shown to be even more effective in blood pressure reduction when combined with a significantly reduced sodium intake.
Since sodium impacts the fluid balance in your body and the pressure required to transport fluids – more sodium means more pressure. For healthy adults, recommended daily sodium intake is no more than 2300mg and those with hypertension or pre-hypertension should aim for less than 1500mg.
Typically, the average Canadian consumes more than double the recommended amount due to overconsumption of processed, packaged and fast food, according to Health Canada. The DASH plan provides an effective framework to promote optimal health.
Sample of DASH Eating Plan: