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DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure

Did you know? What you eat can affect your blood pressure. A healthy eating plan can either help you prevent high blood pressure or reduce blood pressure that is already too high.

The #1 healthy eating approach shown to lower blood pressure is called the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. The DASH eating plan can lower blood pressure by up to 11 mmHg. Nutritional therapy for high blood pressure is so important, that it is included in the national clinical practice guidelines for cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease.

The DASH eating plan emphasizes foods with dietary sources of calcium from low fat dairy, increased fibre, reduced sodium, and lean meats. It also emphasizes eating vegetable and fruits, which have important minerals needed in the management of blood pressure, such as potassium and magnesium.

Here are some tips on how to make DASH diet changes.

Whole grains with fibre:

Choose whole grains such as oatmeal or red river cereal instead of cold cereal for a change. Try wild rice, barley or quinoa with a meal instead of white rice or pasta.

Calcium:

Buy canned sardines or salmon with bones and mash in softened bones.

Choose yogurt with less than 2% milk fat, milk with less than 2% milk fat or choose milk alternatives such as soy enriched with calcium.

Magnesium:

Choose foods with a good source of magnesium such as figs, green peas, spinach, swiss chart, whole grain cereals or bread made with wheat bran or germ, black beans, lentils, soybeans, nuts and seeds eg. almonds, mixed nuts, soybeans and sun flower seeds.

Potassium:

Choose foods with a good source of potassium such as bananas, oranges, avocado, cantaloupe, peaches, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, milk, yogurt, cod, salmon, chicken, and meat.

The effect of these minerals on lowering blood pressure does not happen alone and is recommended as a part of a heart healthy eating plan.

Banana

Try this DASH-friendly recipe that includes foods high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. For more details on the DASH diet and other eating strategies to lower blood pressure, ask your registered dietitian.

Yogurt with banana

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain 1% yogurt
  • ½ banana
  • 1 tbsp silvered almonds

Directions

  1. Combine 1 cup yogurt and cut up banana in a small cereal bowl.
  2. Sprinkle 1 tbsp almonds on top.

Click here if you are interested in attending our next Healthy Heart, Healthy You group education session with a registered dietitian.

For individual consultation with a registered dietitian, patients of the Sunnybrook Academic Family Health Team should ask their family doctor for a referral. If you have prediabetes or diabetes, you may call SUNDEC at 416-480-4805.

About the author

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Marsha Feldt

Marsha Feldt, RD, CDE, is with the Sunnybrook Academic Family Health Team.

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