DASH Diet can lower blood pressure

Hypertension can lead to life-threatening stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, etc. DASH is the abbreviation of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Obviously, this aims at reducing blood pressure and is tested and promoted by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the United States. This does not only applicable to people suffered from hypertension but also people that is looking for good health. It is one of the most popular diet in the States for 8 years. According to study, the diet reduced systolic blood pressure by 6 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg among people with normal blood pressure, and reduced by 11 mm Hg and 6 mm Hg respectively for people suffered from hypertension!

Other than low sodium, low saturated fat, low cholesterol, DASH diet also promotes moderately increasing intake of potassium(except for people suffered from kidney failure), calcium, magnesium and fibre to enhance cardiovascular so as to lower blood pressure.

So, what is a DASH diet? For a person that requires intake of 2000 calories daily(normal adult woman weighing 132 pounds),this is the plan︰

1. Grains 6 to 8 portions daily︰
Rice, noodle, pasta, cereal, bread etc. Brown rice, whole-grain bread are better than white rice and white bread as they contain more fibre and nutrition. Examples of 1 portion of grains are half bowl of rice, noodle or pasta, 1 piece of whole-grain bread, half cup of cooked cereal.

2. Vegetables 4 to 5 portions daily︰
Vegetables contains not only lots of fibre and vitamins, but also potassium, magnesium and other nutrients. 1 portion of vegetables is half a cup of cooked or raw vegetables.

3. Fruits 4 to 5 portions daily︰
This includes both fresh fruits or dried fruits without added sugar. They are rich in fibre, vitamins, potassium, magnesium, etc. Examples of 1 portion of fruits are 1 fresh fruit(apple, orange etc) of medium size, 1/4 cup of dried fruits, 4 oz fruit juice without added sugar.

4. Dairy products 2 to 3 portions daily︰
Preferably low fat or skimmed milk, yogurt and cheese. Examples of 1 portion of dairy products are 1 cup of low fat/skimmed milk or yogurt, 1.5oz low fat cheese.

5. Meat (fish, poultry, pork, beef, etc) up to 6 portions daily︰
Meat is a main source of protein, but should be lean meat without skin and fat. Also, skip the internal organs like liver, intestine, etc. 1 portion of meat is around 1 oz, i.e. about the size of 1 piece of ‘mahjong’ in mahjong game in Chinese tradition.

6. Oil/Fat 2 to 3 portions daily:
Fat helps body to absorb essential vitamins and boosts immune system. However, one should choose good fat and oil, i.e. unsaturated oil, e.g. peanut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, margarine. 1 portion is equivalent to 1 teaspoon.

7. Nuts, seeds, legumes 4 to 5 portions weekly
Choose ready to eat nuts or seeds(e.g. almonds, pistachio) that are unsalted and without seasonings. Although these types of food are rich in fibre, vitamins, potassium, magnesium, etc, they are high in calories so intake should be low each time. 1 portion is 1/3 cup of nuts, 2 teaspoon of seeds, half a cup of cooked beans.

8. Salt up to 6 gram daily︰
This is equivalent to 2300 grams of sodium. Since a lot of food contains sodium already, maximum use of salt for seasoning should be limited to 1 teaspoon (5 grams) throughout the day. Low-sodium salt is also an option to lower sodium intake but check the nutrition label carefully to make sure actual amount of sodium taken does not exceed limit.

9. Sugar up to 5 portions weekly
Natural sugar like glucose in fruits and lactose of dairy products are more desirable than added sugar introduced during food processing.
This is because latter one cannot provide additional nutrients. Examples of 1 portion of sugar are 1 tablespoon of sugar, jelly or jam, half a cup of yogurt.

Hong Kong Nephrology Group has compiled a number of Chinese recipe according to DASH diet (in Chinese only):http://kidney.hk/zh/%E7%A4%BE%E5%8D%80%E5%B7%A5%E4%BD%9C/%E5%BE%97%E8%88%92%E9%A3%B2%E9%A3%9F/

Most of contents above are extracted from︰
1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456
2. http://www.hkma.org/DASH/

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