Eating for Hypertension
Is the DASH Diet Even Scientific?
The most studied and prescribed diet for preventing and treating high blood pressure is the DASH diet.
The study that put this diet on the map was done in 1997 and reported to show a clinically significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Since that time this has become the gold standard for blood pressure reduction through lifestyle changes.
First, let’s briefly discuss blood pressure (BP). BP is broken down into two parts: systolic and diastolic. Systolic BP is the pressure on artery walls when the heart squeezes and pushes the blood throughout the body. Diastolic BP is the pressure on artery walls when the heart is relaxed (between beats).
Elevated blood pressure is not something you want to live with. When the blood pressure is chronically elevated it forces the heart to work harder. The heart is just a fancy muscle. When you work muscles, they grow. So, when the heart has to work harder to push blood throughout the body due to increased pressure in arteries, it must grow.
After years of abuse the heart becomes damaged. It may become dilated, fibrotic, or change in shape. This reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively and is called heart failure. Once you’ve gone down this road the damage is done. It’s difficult to reverse the damage entirely without significant lifestyle changes, medications, and possibly surgical intervention.
There are many other risks associated with high blood pressure (hypertension). It damages organs throughout the body including the eyes, kidneys, and others. You should understand by now why it’s important to control blood pressure.
Let’s look into how the DASH diet became so popular.