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Chris Evans reveals his wife gave him a blood pressure monitor

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Hypertension – or high blood pressure – affects many British adults. This common complaint can lead to serious health problems including strokes and heart attacks. The DASH diet can bring your blood pressure down: but what foods will you have to cut out?

Estimates from the British Heart Foundation suggest four million people under the age of 65 are living with untreated hypertension.

Last week, NHS chemists announced they will roll out free blood pressure checks for over-40s from October 2021, in the hope of reducing serious health problems including strokes and heart attacks happening as a result of high blood pressure.

But when it comes to hypertension – high blood pressure – did you know that you can manage it with a healthy diet?

The DASH diet – DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – has four main principles people should follow to bring their blood pressure down. These are:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Eat more whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts
  • Moderate your sodium, sweets and red meats (the DASH diet recommends no more than one teaspoon of salt per day)

What is the DASH diet?

The DASH diet doesn’t give you specific foods or meals to stick to, instead, it suggests the servings of different food groups you should be eating.

It’s more like an overall adoption of a healthier lifestyle, encouraging people to swap unhealthy choices for more whole and natural foods.

The DASH diet then suggests you work out your daily calorie limit, buspar stresam and within this work out how much you can eat from the recommended servings. Here are some examples

  • Grains: seven to eight daily servings – this could be a slice of whole-grain bread, a serving of whole-wheat pasta or a portion of quinoa
  • Vegetables: four to five daily servings – all veggies are allowed on the DASH diet, make sure however you prepare your vegetables you don’t use too much fat or oil, as this could tip you over your daily allowance
  • Fruits: four to five daily servings – all fruits are allowed on the DASH diet
  • Low-fat dairy products: two to three daily servings – these make a great snack or breakfast
  • Meat, poultry, and fish: two or fewer daily servings – try to choose lean cuts of meat
  • Unsalted nuts, seeds, and dry beans: four to five servings per week – including all kinds of nuts – as long as they are unsalted, seeds, kidney beans and lentils
  • Fats and oils: two to three daily servings – the DASH diet recommends sticking to vegetable oils
  • Sweets: less than five servings per week – including fizzy drinks, you should try to cut down on these but the DASH diet takes into account that it can be hard to cut out sweets completely

How does the DASH diet work?

By limiting foods that are high in sugar, sodium and cholesterol, the DASH diet aims to keep blood pressure in check.

Studies have shown that the DASH diet helps lower the blood pressure of those that follow it, but it has other potential health benefits too.

People who limited their sodium (salt) intake more, while on the DASH diet, saw their blood pressure reduce even further.

The DASH diet can also help people to manage hypertension as people tend to lose weight while following this diet. Being overweight causes higher blood pressure.

The DASH diet has also been linked to reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Nine foods to avoid on the DASH diet

Here comes the difficult bit: while the DASH diet can include a bit of everything, in moderation, eating these foods will make it very difficult to stay on plan.

These are mostly processed, high sugar and high salt foods.

  • Sweets
  • Biscuits
  • Crisps
  • Salted nuts
  • Fizzy drinks and other sugary drinks
  • Pastries
  • Some salad dressings (it’s better to make your own, so you can choose how much oil and salt you include)
  • Full-fat cheese
  • Cured meats

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