Have you ever wondered why your blood pressure doesn’t seem to go down? Perhaps you are not eating as you should. You would be surprised to know the great effects of a proper diet in the treatment of hypertension! In the USA. Around 75 million people have hypertension. The incredible thing is that there are more people dying from cardiovascular diseases related to hypertension, than those who die from the three deadliest diseases combined.
As if that were not enough, it is also expected that by 2015, 156 billion people worldwide will live with this condition.  The good news is that the US National Institutes of Health created a special dietary plan for hypertensive and pre-hypertensive patients called “The DASH Diet” ( Food Approaches to Stop Hypertension – for its acronym in English). This plan is based on research studies sponsored by the institute, and apart from its great effectiveness in lowering blood pressure, it also offers other benefits  such as improving cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of developing other cardiovascular diseases. Since hypertension can have several origins, there is no single solution to treat it. However, it has been shown that a healthy and low sodium diet (such as DASH) is crucial for maintaining adequate blood pressure levels.
What is it About?
The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. In addition to the standard DASH diet, there is also an even lower sodium version of the diet. You can choose the version of the diet that meets your health needs:
- Standard diet: You can consume up to 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day.
- Low sodium diet: You can consume up to 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
Both versions of the DASH diet aim to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet compared to what you could get in a typical American diet, which can amount to 3,400 mg of sodium a day or even more. In addition to helping treat hypertension, it can help you lose weight due to the high nutritional quality it offers and its caloric characteristics. Losing weight is essential for hypertensive patients who are overweight or obese as it has been proven that a decrease in it contributes to the regulation of blood pressure. If this is your case, we recommend reading how many calories should I eat to lose weight?
What to Eat?
Both versions of the DASH diet include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. The DASH diet also includes some fish, poultry and legumes and encourages a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week. You can also eat red meat, sweets and fats in small quantities. Here is a look at the recommended portions  of each food group for the DASH diet of 2,000 calories per day.
Grains: 6 to 8 Servings a Day:
Is it possible to cure hypertension? The miracle of the DASH diet. The “Grains” group includes bread, cereals, rice and pasta. Some examples of a serving of grains are:
- 1 slice of whole wheat bread,
- 1 ounce dry cereal
- 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta.
It is best to focus on whole grains because they have more fiber and nutrients than refined grains. For example, use brown rice instead of white rice, whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta and whole grain bread instead of white bread. Look for products labeled “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.”
Vegetables: 4 to 5 Servings a Day:
Is it possible to cure hypertension? The miracle of the DASH diet. Tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes and vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Some examples of “one serving” are:
- 1 cup raw green leafy vegetables
- 1/2 cup cut raw or cooked vegetables.
Do not think of vegetables only as side dishes. Without a doubt, an abundant mixture of vegetables served on brown rice or whole wheat noodles can serve as a main course for a meal. Fresh and frozen vegetables are good options. When buying frozen and canned vegetables, choose those that are labeled low sodium or no added salt.
Fruits: 4 to 5 Servings a Day:
Is it possible to cure hypertension? The miracle of the DASH diet. Many fruits need little preparation to become a healthy part of a meal or snack. Like vegetables, they are full of fiber, potassium and magnesium and are typically low in fat. Some examples of a portion are:
- 1/2 cup frozen or canned fresh fruit.
- 4 ounces of juice
A good idea is to take a piece of fruit with meals and another piece as a snack. Whenever possible, leave the fruits with their peel – those that are edible, of course. If you decide to consume canned fruit or juice, make sure you have no added sugar.
Dairy: 2 to 3 Servings a Day:
Is it possible to cure hypertension? The miracle of the DASH diet. Milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products are the main sources of calcium, vitamin D and protein. The key is to make sure you choose dairy products that are low in fat or fat free, because otherwise they can be an important source of fat (and most of it is saturated). Examples of a portion include:
- 1 cup skim milk or 1 percent
- 1 cup low-fat yogurt
- 1 1/2 ounces partially skimmed cheese.
If you have trouble digesting dairy products, choose lactose-free products or consider taking an over-the-counter product that contains the enzyme lactase, which can reduce or prevent the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Lean Meats, Poultry and Fish: 6 Servings or Less Per Day:
Meat can be a rich source of protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. Choose lean varieties and aim not to consume more than 6 ounces a day. The decrease in meat portions will allow space for more vegetables. It is important to cut the skin and fat of poultry and meat. Then, you can bake or broil them instead of frying them.
Nuts, Seeds and Legumes: 4 to 5 Servings a Week:
Almonds, sunflower seeds, beans, peas, lentils and other foods in this family are good sources of magnesium, potassium and protein.
“They are also full of fiber and phytochemicals, which are plant compounds that can protect against some types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases”.
The service sizes are small and are intended to be consumed only a few times a week because these foods are high in calories. Examples of a portion include:
- 1/3 cup nuts
- 2 tablespoons of seeds
- 1/2 cup cooked beans or peas
Fats and Oils: 2 to 3 Servings a Day:
Fat helps the body absorb essential vitamins and is related to the proper functioning of the immune system. Despite these benefits, an excess of them increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The DASH diet strives for a healthy balance by limiting total fat to less than 30 percent of daily fat calories, with a focus on healthy monounsaturated fats. Examples of a portion include:
- 1 teaspoon soft margarine
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons of dressing
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) can help satisfy your taste while saving sugar. But remember that you still have to use them sensibly. Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that men limit alcohol to no more than two drinks a day and women to one or less. Physical activity is also important. It promotes heart health and helps achieve overall fitness, so that you are not panting after climbing a simple set of stairs. You can reduce your blood pressure if you exercise regularly – at least 60 minutes every day, or 150 minutes per week – Here you can see a list of The 13 exercises that burn the most calories.