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The primary benefit of the DASH diet for high blood pressure is to lower blood pressure, often within two weeks, by reducing salt and fat consumption, and increasing the intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Weight loss is not a specific goal of this diet, but many people do lose weight on the DASH diet because they've switched to healthier eating habits in order to follow the plan. Another benefit of this diet is that dietary changes are gradually introduced, so it becomes a way of life rather than a temporary means to meet a goal. This slow change often translates to lowered blood pressure.
One of the greatest benefits of the DASH diet for high blood pressure is to lower blood pressure by lowering salt intake, eating low fat foods, and increasing consumption of food high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Consuming salt raises blood pressure in all people, but some people are particularly sensitive to sodium and experience a greater elevation of their blood pressure. Fat consumption can lead to narrowing of the arteries and an increase in the thickness of the blood, which both require a higher pressure to pump blood through the body. The DASH diet lowers fat intake by suggesting no more than six servings of lean meat per week, two to three servings of healthy fats or oils per day, and limits dairy products to two to three low fat or fat free servings per day.
Fiber has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce artery-clogging cholesterol. The DASH diet for high blood pressure increases the intake of fiber by advocating the consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These high fiber foods have many additional health benefits, such as promoting weight loss, controlling blood sugar, and regulating bowel movements. Whole grains also make people feel full, preventing them from feeling hungry between meals, which can lead to unhealthy snacking. An increase in fiber, along with a decrease in fats, often leads to weight loss for those on the DASH diet.
The final benefit of the DASH diet for high blood pressure is the way the plan is administered. Participants are encouraged to add one to two healthy changes to their diet each week. For example, the first week they may try to eat more whole grains by switching to whole grain breads or brown rice. By getting the body and palate gradually used to new foods and tastes, changes may be more tolerable and last longer. Reducing blood pressure is a lifelong battle for most people, so bringing about long-lasting change in the diet is more beneficial.
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