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High blood pressure: The best diet to lower hypertension – ‘strongest evidence’

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DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and is a popular healthy-eating plan designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure.

The original DASH trial in 1997 demonstrated that a diet that emphasises fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and whole grains and limits saturated fat, red and processed meats, and sugar results in a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, while diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.

“The DASH diet includes foods that are rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients help control blood pressure. The diet limits foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars,” the Mayo Clinic states.

The foods at the center of the DASH diet are naturally low in sodium. So just by following the DASH diet, you’re likely to lower your intake of sodium.

The diet promotes a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a lifelong healthy eating style.

The DASH diet works by reducing heart stress and damage that often results in heart disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

A further study carried out by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Harvard Medical School found the diet actually goes even further.

Doctor Stephen Juraschek, the study’s lead author said: “Our study represents some of the strongest evidence that diet directly impacts cardiac damage, and our findings show that dietary interventions can improve cardiovascular risk factors in a relatively short time period.”

The main aim of the DASH diet is not to lose weight but to reduce blood pressure. However, it can also help those who want to lose weight, lower cholesterol, and manage or prevent diabetes.

DASH is also not a vegetarian diet, but it adds more fruits and vegetables.

On some days, you may eat a few more or a few less servings than recommended for a particular food group.

“That’s generally okay, as long as the average of several days or a week is close to the recommendations,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it, according to the NHS. Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions.

The health body adds that the only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.

Everyone’s blood pressure will be slightly different. What’s considered low or high for you may be normal for someone else.

Nonetheless, as a general guide, ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.

All adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.

As well as adopting certain diets, there are certain lifestyle changes that can help prevent and lower high blood pressure.

For example, you can lower your risk of associated conditions by cutting down on alcohol and exercising regularly.

The NHS also recommends that you cut down on caffeine and stop smoking.

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