Too many people underestimate the dangers of high blood pressure, thinking it’s normal, expected, and not a big deal.
But the truth is that high blood pressure (also called hypertension) is a severe condition that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems.
The walls of your arteries and the organ tissues they supply are fragile. If your blood pushes through those vessels with too much force and pressure, it can cause life-threatening damage.
What Is The DASH Diet?
In 1997, to address the public health crisis of hypertension, the National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute developed the DASH diet—Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
The DASH diet is an evidence-based intervention shown to substantially reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other hypertension-associated disorders.
The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, nuts, and seeds and low in salt, saturated fats, red meat, processed foods, sweets, and sugary drinks.
An Easy Way To Start Today
Despite the profound and proven health benefits of the DASH diet, researchers have noticed that it has a low adherence rate. Doctors advise their patients to embrace the DASH diet, and it’ll significantly improve their health and quality of life, yet few people seem to follow through.
Maybe they don’t fully understand hypertension or how the diet works, perhaps they struggle to change their habits, or perhaps they’ve made excuses: “I don’t need to change,” “it’s too expensive,” or “the food is boring.”
If you’re finding it too hard or confusing to make the complete transition to the DASH diet, a simple way to start is by adding more servings of fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. Not just a little bit more, but a lot more.
Instead of restricting and cutting back on certain foods, focus on adding in more healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables. And gradually, as you become used to eating more fruits and vegetables, you can continue adjusting your diet to align closer with the DASH diet guidelines.
A Big Change For A Big Problem
It might seem like the DASH diet is a significant change, but keep in mind that hypertension is a big problem. It affects a third of US adults, and it’s one of the leading risk factors and causes of heart disease.
The solution to hypertension is known, and the DASH diet has been proven to be an effective intervention. So instead of slowly easing into the diet, maybe it’s time to commit and make the change fully.
You’ll likely find out very quickly that the DASH diet isn’t that hard to follow and can be delicious and enjoyable. And most importantly, you’ll be taking an essential step toward improving your health, preventing disease, and living a longer and happier life.