(Natural News) Your diet and habits can significantly affect your risk of various conditions, such as obesity and hypertension (high blood pressure). If you want to eat healthy and keep your heart strong, health experts suggest following the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
According to several well-designed and well-executed clinical trials, within eight to 12 weeks, adults who follow a DASH-like diet are able to enjoy significantly lower blood pressure. Juraschek says that the dietary patterns assessed in those studies have the most scientific evidence for targeting cardiovascular disease risk factors. (Related: Science confirms that a diet of vegetables, fruit, whole grains is good for body and mind.)
If you’re not sure which diet is good for your cardiovascular health, Juraschek recommends following the DASH diet. It has been proven to target risk factors like hypertension and even cardiovascular disease itself – the number one killer in the U.S.
The DASH diet was designed to help lower hypertension, and it:
- Includes a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein (e.g., fish or poultry)
- Encourages the consumption of fiber-rich foods, nuts, and beans
- Limits the consumption of foods full of saturated fat, like red meat, full-fat dairy products, and coconut and palm oils
- Also limits the consumption of sugary beverages and sweets
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Instead of following a diet to simply lose weight, you should remember that dietary programs also prioritize balance and healthy eating. A beneficial diet helps lower cardiovascular disease risk factors like blood pressure and cholesterol.
Balanced plates and healthy diets
The majority of adults in the U.S. are unaware of new recommendations for healthy eating. Instead of eating balanced meals that include fresh fruits and vegetables and high-fiber foods like nuts and beans, most Americans eat a lot of meat and carbohydrates.
You can improve your diet by making a simple change in how you assemble and balance your plates. Although most people know that fruits and vegetables are healthy foods, when they assemble their meal plans, they only include about one to three servings of each per day.
When following the DASH diet, you need to include at least seven to nine servings of both fruits and vegetables per day. Balancing your meals will take considerable thought and effort, but it is worth doing. Also, you can start balancing meals by making healthier choices at the grocery store. Think quality over quantity.
If you’re new to meal planning, here are some important and helpful questions to ask yourself:
- What are the main food groups on your plate?
- How are you assembling or balancing your meals?
- What fruits and vegetables do you need to buy at the grocery store to eat throughout the week?
- Can you substitute a serving of meat or carbohydrates (e.g., bread, pasta, or rice) with another serving of fresh vegetables?
Eating healthily isn’t about restriction and foods you shouldn’t eat. It has more to do with identifying which types of foods can give you the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that will improve your overall well-being.
DASH diet tips for healthy eating
Here are some steps that can help you get started on the DASH diet:
- Eat fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables with a low sodium content or no added salt
- Choose fresh poultry, fish, or lean meat instead of canned, smoked, or processed meats
- Treat meat as one part of a whole meal, instead of making it the main focus
- Avoid canned broths or soups, packaged mixes, and frozen dinners
- Instead of using salt, add spices to flavor foods
- Add fruit to breakfast or eat fruits as a snack
Follow the DASH diet and eat more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to boost your heart health.