The DASH diet claims to help manage hypertension (high blood pressure), but it is not the best understood in terms of guidelines.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or “DASH,” is a diet designed to prevent or manage high blood pressure, or hypertension. Initially introduced in the 1900s, the DASH diet has been found to decrease systolic blood pressure by about 6 to 11 mm Hg.
How it works: The DASH diet includes foods rich in minerals like potassium and magnesium while limiting sodium (salt) to 2,300 mg a day, or to 1,500 mg a day for a lower sodium diet.
A typical day on the DASH diet includes (according to the NIH):
The diet recommends consuming green leafy vegetables, whole grains, low GI fruits, and sources of good fats like olive oil and avocados while limiting processed carbs and meats.
Blood pressure is measured in mm Hg or millimeters of mercury.
The current guidelines describing blood pressure ranges according to the American Heart Association are:
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the condition of blood pressure consistently being higher than 140 over 90 mm Hg. Considered the primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, hypertension increases the risk of heart failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic kidney disease, stroke, dementia, and death.
The DASH diet offers benefits for individuals with or at an increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular events, stroke, or kidney disease.
Current research shows the DASH diet lowers blood pressure in those with high or normal blood pressure. It is also known to help people with:
Yes, but: Only an estimated 10 to 20 percent of people adhere to the DASH diet. A high adherence to the DASH diet can lead to a 26 percent lower risk of hypertension, with even modest adherence offering similar benefits.
Another downside of the DASH diet is the lack of well-defined guidelines. It does not assign caloric goals and is not known to support weight loss.