What is the DASH diet?
The DASH diet—short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—is a healthy-eating, heart-conscious plan that aims to treat or prevent high blood pressure by lowering sodium intake and increasing the consumption of nutrient-rich foods. Following this diet can lower your blood pressure in two weeks; over time, your systolic blood pressure could drop as much as 14 points. (Systolic pressure, the first number in a blood pressure reading, measures the pressure when your heart is contracting.) This approach to eating is also in line with dietary recommendations that help prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. You can learn more about this healthy diet here.
How does it lower blood pressure?
For starters, cutting back on salt can work some serious magic. But in addition to that, the DASH diet—with its focus on vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins, as well as on portion control—cuts down on foods that contain unhealthy fat and cholesterol and increases foods with fiber and protein. The diet also delivers foods high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which help to lower blood pressure.