HealthCare Majota

majota health care logo
pretty young woman eating healthy food

Best diet for healthy heart – DASH diet

Share on social networks ๐Ÿ’š

As nutrition is thought to play a major role in the development of high blood pressure, scientists and creators of specialized nutrition programs have devised specific dietary strategies to help reduce high blood pressure and improve the health of the population over time.

This article is primarily focused on the best diet for a healthy heart – DASH diet, which is designed to fight high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. However, don’t be surprised if you notice other improvements using this diet: weight loss, easier and better control of diabetes (if you have it), and a whole host of other improvements.

Here are some quick links to what weโ€™ll cover in this article. If youโ€™re in hurry, or for any other reason, feel free to use the quick links to jump straight to the section you want to read:

What is the best diet for a healthy heart?

Dietary approaches to stop hypertension or DASH is the best diet recommended for people who want to prevent or treat hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

This diet is based on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. It was created after researchers noticed that high blood pressure is much less common in people who followed a plant-based diet – in vegans and vegetarians.

It emphasizes the intake of fruits and vegetables, and the intake of proteins from non-fat sources – chicken, fish, and beans. The diet contains a little red meat, salt, added sugars, and fats.

heart-shaped healthy food

Scientists believe that one of the main reasons why people with high blood pressure can benefit from this diet is that it advocates lower salt intake.
A regular DASH diet program encourages the intake of up to 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg) of sodium per day, which is in line with most guidelines in developed countries.

There is also a version with even less salt where no more than 3/4 teaspoon (1,500 mg) of sodium per day is recommended. However, this version has certain shortcomings that will be discussed in more detail below.

IN SHORT
This diet is designed to reduce high blood pressure. Although it is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins, it limits red meat, with added sugars and fats.

Potential benefits

In addition to lowering blood pressure, this diet brings a number of benefits, including weight loss and a reduced risk of cancer.

However, you should not expect to help you lose weight without your engagement because it is basically designed to lower blood pressure. So, a little more extra activity, a better lifestyle, and good results are guaranteed.

Lowering blood pressure

Studies conducted with people who were on this diet showed that they had lower blood pressure, even though they did not lose weight or did not have limited salt intake.

However, when sodium intake was limited, the DASH diet lowered blood pressure even more. In fact, the greatest reduction in blood pressure was observed in people with the lowest salt consumption.

These results of the low-salt were most impressive in people who already had high blood pressure, reducing systolic blood pressure by an average of 12 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg.

In people with normal blood pressure, systolic blood pressure decreased by 4 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2 mmHg.

This is in line with other studies that find that limiting salt intake can lower blood pressure, especially in those who have high blood pressure.

INTERESTING FACT: It is interesting that the DASH diet lowers blood pressure in both people with normal values โ€‹โ€‹and those with elevated values.

IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that lowering blood pressure does not always lead to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Weight losing

If you are on this diet, you will probably lower your blood pressure whether you are losing weight or not.

However, if you already have high blood pressure, it is very likely that you are also overweight and that you have been advised to lose weight. Usually, higher body weight correlates with higher blood pressure.

In addition, weight loss has been shown to lower blood pressure.

Some studies indicate that people can lose weight while on this diet. The mechanism of weight loss is simple: on the DASH diet, they had a controlled calorie deficit, which means that they were told to consume fewer calories than they consumed. Pure mathematics.

weight losing and green apple

Since the DASH diet eliminates a lot of fatty, sweet foods, people may find that they automatically reduce their calorie intake and lose weight, while other people may need to consciously limit their calorie intake.

In any case, if you want to lose weight on the DASH diet, you will have to reduce your calorie intake

Other potential health benefits

  • Reduces the risk of cancer: Recent studies have shown that people who follow this diet have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
  • Reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome: Some studies reveal that this diet reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome by up to 81%.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes: Diet is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies show that it can also improve insulin resistance.
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease: In a recent review of women, adherence to a DASH-like diet was associated with a 20% lower risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke.

Many of the protective effects of this diet are attributed to the high content of fruits and vegetables in the diet. In general, eating more fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of disease.

IN SHORT
The DASH diet lowers blood pressure, especially if it is elevated, and can help with weight loss. This could reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and some types of cancer.

Does the DASH diet “work” for everyone?

Although studies on this diet have found that the greatest reductions in blood pressure occurred in those with the lowest salt intake, the benefits of limiting salt to health and life expectancy are unclear.

For people with high blood pressure, reducing salt intake significantly affects blood pressure. However, in people with normal blood pressure, the effects of reducing salt intake are much smaller.

It is theorized that some people are sensitive to salt, which means that salt has a greater effect on their blood pressure and this could partially explain this phenomenon.

IN SHORT
If you eat more salt than you need, the reduction can bring great health benefits. Comprehensive salt restriction, as advised on the DASH diet, can only be useful for people who are sensitive to salt or have high blood pressure.

Excessive salt reduction is also not good

It sounds paradoxical, but the intake of too little salt is also associated with health problems, such as an increased risk of heart disease, insulin resistance, and fluid retention.

The DASH version of the low-salt diet recommends that people do not eat more than 3/4 teaspoon (1,500 mg) of sodium per day.

However, there are no studies and evidence of the benefits of a large reduction in salt intake, even in people with high blood pressure.

salting food

In fact, recent studies have not found a link between salt intake and the risk of death from heart disease, despite the fact that the reduction in salt intake caused a moderate reduction in blood pressure.

However, today most people eat too much salt, so reducing your intake from an average of 2โ€“2.5 teaspoons (10โ€“12 grams) per day to 1โ€“1.25 teaspoons (5โ€“6 grams) per day can be great in itself uses.

This goal can be easily achieved by reducing the amount of highly processed foods in your diet and eating mostly whole foods.

IN SHORT
Although reducing salt intake from processed foods is beneficial for most people, eating too little salt can also be harmful.

What to eat?

healthy meal - meat and vegetables

This diet does not specify the specific foods to be eaten but recommends a certain number of servings of different food groups.

The number of servings you can eat depends on how many calories you consume. The following is an example of the number and size of food portions based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

INTEGRAL CEREALS: 6-8 servings per dayย 

Examples of whole grains include whole grain bread or whole grains, whole-grain breakfast cereals, whole grain rice, bulgur, quinoa, and oatmeal.

Examples of one serving size:

  • 1 slice of whole-grain bread;
  • 30 grams of dried whole-grain cereals;
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) cooked rice, pasta, or cereal.

VEGETABLES: 4-5 servings per day

All vegetables are allowed in the DASH diet.

Examples of one serving size:

  • 1 cup (about 30 grams) raw, leafy green vegetables (spinach or kale)
  • 1/2 cup (about 45 grams) of chopped vegetables – raw or cooked (broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, or tomato);

FRUIT: 4-5 servings per day

If you follow the DASH diet, you will eat a lot of fruit. Fruits you can eat apples, pears, peaches, berries, and tropical fruits like pineapple and mango.

Examples of one serving size:

  • 1 medium apple;
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) dried apricots;
  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) fresh, frozen or canned peaches.

DAIRY PRODUCTS: 2-3 servings per day

Dairy products should contain little fat – skim milk, low-fat cheese, and yogurt.

Examples of one serving size:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) low-fat milk;
  • 1 cup (250 grams) low-fat yogurt;
  • 45 grams of low-fat cheese.

NON-FAT CHICKEN, MEAT AND FISH: 6 or fewer servings per day

Choose lean pieces of meat and try to eat a portion of red meat only occasionally – no more than once or twice a week.

Examples of one serving size:

  • 30 grams of cooked meat, chicken, or fish
  • 1 egg

NUTS, SEEDS, AND legumes: 4-5 servings per week

These include almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, beans, lentils, and peas.

Examples of one serving size:

  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) walnuts;
  • 2 tablespoons (40 grams) walnut butter;
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) seeds;
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) cooked legumes.

FATS AND OILS: 2-3 servings daily

The DASH diet recommends vegetable oils over other fats. These include margarine, canola oil, corn, olive or saffron. He also recommends low-fat mayonnaise and a light salad dressing.

Examples of one serving size:

  • 1 teaspoon (4.5 grams) of soft margarine;
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vegetable oil;
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) mayonnaise;
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) salad dressing.

SWEETS AND ADDED SUGARS: 5 or fewer servings per week

Added sugars are kept to a minimum on the DASH diet, so limit your intake of sweets, sugary sodas, and sugar. The DASH diet also limits unrefined sugars and alternative sugar sources, such as agave.

Examples of one serving size:

  • 1 tablespoon (12.5 grams) of sugar;
  • 1 tablespoon (20 grams) jelly or jam;
  • 1 cup (240 ml) lemonade.

IN SHORT
The DASH diet does not specify specific foods to eat. Instead, it is a diet focused on portions of certain types of food.

DASH diet: an example of a one-week menu

Here is an example of a one-week meal plan, based on a caloric intake of 2,000 calories per day, for those who want to follow this diet:

Monday

healthy fresh vegetables

  • Breakfast: 1 cup (90 grams) of oatmeal with 1 cup (240 ml) of skim milk, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of blueberries, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium-sized apple and 1 cup (285 grams) of low-fat yogurt.
  • Lunch: Tuna and mayonnaise sandwich made of 2 slices of whole-grain bread, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of mayonnaise, 1.5 cups (120 grams) of lettuce, and 80 grams of canned tuna.
  • Snack: 1 medium-sized banana.
  • Dinner: 85 grams of lean chicken breast cooked in one teaspoon (5 ml) of vegetable oil with 1/2 cup (75 grams) of broccoli and carrots. Serve with 1 cup (190 grams) of integral rice.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: 2 slices of whole-wheat toast with 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of margarine, 1 tablespoon (20 grams) of jelly or jam, 1/2 cup (120 ml) of fresh orange juice, and 1 medium-sized apple.
  • Snack: 1 medium-sized banana.
  • Lunch: 85 grams of lean chicken breast with 2 cups (150 grams) of lettuce, 1.5 grams (45 grams) of low-fat cheese, and 1 cup (190 grams) of integral rice.
  • Snack: 1/2 cup (30 grams) of canned peaches and 1 cup (285 grams) of low-fat yogurt.
  • Dinner: 85 grams of salmon cooked in 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vegetable oil with 1 cup (300 grams) of boiled potatoes and 1.5 cups (225 grams) of cooked vegetables.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: 1 cup (90 grams) of oatmeal with 1 cup (240 ml) of skim milk and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of blueberries. 1/2 cup (120 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium-sized orange.
  • Lunch: 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 3 grams of low-fat turkey, 1.5 grams (45 grams) of low-fat cheese, 1/2 cup (38 grams) of lettuce, and 1/2 cup (40 grams) of cherry tomatoes.
  • Snack: 4 whole-grain crackers with 45 grams of fresh cheese and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of canned pineapple.
  • Dinner: 170 grams of cod fillets, 1 cup (200 grams) of mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of green peas, and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of broccoli.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: 1 cup (90 grams) of oatmeal with 1 cup (240 ml) of skim milk and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of raspberries. 1/2 cup (120 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium-sized banana.
  • Lunch: Salad of 130 grams of grilled tuna, 1 boiled egg, 2 cups (152 grams) of lettuce, 1/2 cup (40 grams) of cherry tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of low-fat dressing.
  • Snack: 1/2 cup (30 grams) of canned pears and 1 cup (280 grams) of low-fat yogurt.
  • Dinner: 85 grams of pork fillet with 1 cup (150 grams) of mixed vegetables and 1 cup (190 grams) of integral rice.

Friday

healthy green salads

  • Breakfast: 2 boiled eggs, 2 slices of turkey breast with 1/2 cup (40 grams) cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup (80 grams) roasted beans, and 2 slices of whole-wheat toast, plus 1/2 cup (120 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium-sized apple.
  • Lunch: 2 slices of whole-wheat toast, 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise, 45 grams of low-fat cheese, 1/2 cup (38 grams) of lettuce, and 1/2 cup (40 grams) of cherry tomatoes.
  • Snack: 1 cup of fruit salad.
  • Dinner: Spaghetti and dressing: 1 cup (190 grams) of spaghetti and 115 grams of minced turkey. 1/2 cup (75 grams) green peas as a supplement.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: 2 slices of whole-wheat toast with 2 tablespoons (40 grams) of peanut butter, 1 medium banana, 2 tablespoons (16 grams) of mixed seeds, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium-sized apple.
  • Lunch: 85 grams of grilled chicken, 1 cup (150 grams) of roasted vegetables, and 1 cup (190 grams) of couscous.
  • Snack: 1/2 cup (30 grams) of mixed berries and 1 cup (285 grams) of low-fat yogurt.
  • Dinner: 85 grams of pork steak and 1 cup (150 grams) of steamed broccoli with 1 cup (190 grams) of integral rice, 1/2 cup (40 grams) of lentils, and 45 grams of low-fat cheese.
  • Dessert: Chocolate pudding with low-fat content.

Sunday

  • Breakfast: 1 cup (90 grams) of oatmeal with 1 cup (240 ml) of skim milk, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of blueberries, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Snack: 1 medium-sized pear.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad made of 85 grams of lean chicken breast, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, 2 cups (150 grams) of lettuce, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of cherry tomatoes, 1/2 tablespoon (4 grams) of seeds, and 4 crackers of whole grains.
  • Snack: 1 banana and 1/2 cup (70 grams) almonds.
  • Dinner: 100 g of roast beef with 1 cup (150 grams) of boiled potatoes, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of broccoli, and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of green peas.

IN SHORT
If you are on this diet, you can prepare a variety of delicious, healthy meals that are rich in vegetables, fruits, and good sources of protein.

How to make the diet as varied as possible?

Because there is no specific food on this diet that is particularly healthy or not, you can adjust your current diet to the DASH guidelines by doing the following:

  • Eat more vegetables and fruits.
  • Replace refined cereals with whole grains.
  • Choose fat-free dairy products.
  • Choose low-fat protein sources such as fish, poultry, and beans.
  • Use vegetable oils when cooking.
  • Limit your intake of foods high in sugar – carbonated beverages and sweets.
  • Limit your intake of foods rich in saturated fats – fatty meats, whole milk products, and oils (palm oil in particular).
  • In addition to the recommended amounts of fresh fruit juice, this diet recommends the use of low-calorie beverages such as water, tea, and coffee.

IN SHORT
It is possible to adjust your current diet to the DASH diet. Simply eat more fruits and vegetables, choose low-fat, low-fat protein products and limit your intake of processed, fatty, and sweet foods.

Frequently asked questions

If you are considering trying this diet to improve your heart health, you may have a few questions about other aspects of your lifestyle. More on that below.

1. Does the DASH diet allow the consumption of coffee?

This diet does not prescribe special guidelines for coffee. However, some people believe that coffee and beverages that contain caffeine can increase blood pressure.

It is well known that caffeine can cause a short-term jump in blood pressure. In addition, this jump is higher in people with high blood pressure.

a cup with coffee beans

However, recent research has found that this popular drink does not increase the risk of high blood pressure or heart disease in the long run – although it causes a short-term (1-3 hours) jump.

For most healthy people with normal blood pressure, 3-4 regular cups of coffee a day are considered safe.

Keep in mind that a slight increase in blood pressure (5-10 mm Hg) caused by caffeine means that people who already have high blood pressure probably need to be more careful when consuming coffee.

2. Diet and exercise – useful or not?

The DASH diet is even more effective in lowering blood pressure in combination with physical activity.

Given the health benefits of exercise, this is not surprising.

A 30-minute moderate activity is recommended, and it is important to choose something that you enjoy – this way you will easily enter the routine without laziness and effort.

old man doing exercises
Examples of moderate activities:

  • Fast walking (9 minutes per kilometer);
  • Running (6 minutes per kilometer);
  • Cycling (4 minutes per kilometer);
  • Swimming (20 minutes);
  • Homework (60 minutes.)…

3. Can consuming too much alcohol increase blood pressure?

In fact, regular drinking of more than 3 drinks a day is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

When you are on this diet, you should drink alcohol in moderation and you should not exceed the officially recommended amounts – 2 or fewer drinks a day for men and 1 or less for women.

IN SHORT
If you are on this diet, you can drink coffee and alcohol in moderation. Combining this diet with exercise can make it even more effective.

Instead of a conclusion

This diet can be an easy and effective way to lower blood pressure and generally to improve heart health.

heart-shaped vegetables

However, keep in mind that reducing your daily salt intake to 3/4 teaspoon (1,500 mg) or less is not associated with any major health benefits, with a reduced risk of heart disease, despite the fact that it can lower blood pressure.

Moreover, the DASH diet is very similar to the standard low-fat diet, which large controlled trials have not shown to reduce the risk of death from heart disease.

Healthy individuals have little reason to follow this diet. However, if you have high blood pressure or think you are sensitive to salt, this diet is definitely the best choice for you.

Thatโ€™s it!

We hope this article helped with great tips and best practices about a healthy heart diet and healthy eating.

It would also be good to take a look at our pages with healthy eating programs as well as weight loss programs and choose something that will suit your needs, and we are sure that you will find something that you will like and that will have great results in the end.

And if you are looking for more ways to improve your heart health, you should check our other great Majota Blog posts.

Also, if you have any questions or feel that there is some other important healthy eating information we have not listed, feel free to leave a comment, it will mean a lot to us and we will be grateful for it.


Share on social networks ๐Ÿ’š

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.