A healthy heart diet that can decrease the risk of many diseases
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The healthy heart diet
Everyone is looking for healthy heart diet that is going to help them be successful in improving their health. Most people have goals of either decreasing their weight or reducing their risk factors for developing disease.
Let's review a healthy heart diet that can help decrease the risk of many diseases by incorporating healthy eating habits into your life.
Used in combination with an exercise program, this diet can help you lose weight.
The diet is called the DASH diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension. This diet is based on a study (the DASH study) that found that dietary patterns can have a positive effect on blood pressure.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects about 50 million or 1 in 4 adult Americans. High blood pressure is particularly common among African-Americans who tend to develop it earlier and more often than Caucasians. High blood pressure also becomes more common in older Americans.
About half of all American over the age of 60 have high blood pressure. Once developed, high blood pressure can last a lifetime.
High blood pressure is a dangerous condition and it often has no warning signs or symptoms.
If uncontrolled, high blood pressure can lead to heart and kidney disease and stroke.
Even slight elevations of blood pressure above the optimal level of 120/80 mmHg or less are unhealthy.
The higher the blood pressure above normal, the greater the risk. (Blood pressure should be checked regularly. Please see your doctor to keep updated on your blood pressure.
Many people are not aware of their blood pressure.
The earlier high blood pressure is detected, the less likely are the chances of developing a more serious problem from high blood pressure.
Fortunately, there are many steps that can help control or prevent you from developing high blood pressure.
These include: (1) maintaining a desirable body weight, (or losing some weight if you are overweight), (2) exercise regularly/become more physically active, (3) eat healthy-this includes choosing foods lower in salt and sodium, (4) limiting alcohol intake, and (5) if prescribed, take high blood pressure medication.
The DASH Diet Study
The DASH diet study found that a diet reduced in total saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat diary foods can significantly lower blood pressure.
The DASH diet lowered blood pressure to the same extent as did anti-hypertensive medication. This is important because this shows that the DASH diet may represent an alternative to drug therapy for people with high blood pressure who are willing to comply with the diet.
However, this is not just a healthy diet for people with high blood pressure. This is a realistic diet that can be used by everyone who is trying to maintain or improve their health.
Used in conjunction with other lifestyle behaviors such as regular exercise, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake, this diet can help you lose weight and decrease your risk of health problems.
Overview of the DASH Diet Study:
The study consisted of 459 participants who had high blood pressure.
The average age was 44.6 years and the baseline blood pressure was 132/85. 59% of the participants were African-American and 49% were women.
Participants were assigned to follow either their normal diet (control diet), a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, (fruit and vegetable diet), or a diet that was not only rich in fruits and vegetables, but was also rich in low-fat diary products and low in saturated fat (combination diet). They followed the diets for 11 weeks.
DASH Diet Study Results
The combination diet significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, while the fruit and vegetable diet lowered only systolic blood pressure.
The effects of the diets on blood pressure were evident within 1 week and reached maximum benefit after 2 weeks.
This maximum effect on blood pressure was maintained for the rest of the study. Both men and women had comparable decreases in blood pressure.
The higher the baseline blood pressure reading, the greater the effect of the diet on lowering blood pressure.
This study shows that the DASH diet (the combination diet), can help decrease blood pressure. Importantly, a blood pressure decrease of the magnitude seen in the DASH diet is estimated to reduce the incidence of coronary artery disease by 15% and stroke by 27%.
The Bottom Line About the DASH Diet Study
Not only is the DASH diet good for your body and can help you with your weight loss goals, but most importantly, the DASH diet is a sensible diet that you can realistically follow for the rest of your life.
The problem with most fad healthy diets is that while they might help you lose weight quickly, they are not practical or feasible to be followed for a long time.
Therefore, without a proper healthy diet, it will be difficult to maintain the weight loss.
So if you are looking for a diet to help you with weight loss and improve your health, you might want to consider trying the DASH diet.
For more information about the actual DASH diet, including how to make the change to the DASH diet, please visit the DASH Diet home page.
For more information about high blood pressure or other heart-related topics, please visit National Heath, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) .
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