DASH, or the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, is a diet developed in the Nineties in the United States to counter the fast-rising problem of hypertension in the population.
It is based on the simple principle of eating more fruit and vegetables and less salt.
For maximum effect, the diet should be accompanied by regular exercise - 30-60 minutes a day of any kind of sport or physical activity, even simple walking.
The DASH diet was primarily designed to reduce blood pressure (1) and thus improve the health of the cardiovascular system (2). However, its positive effects don’t stop there. Since it also encourages weight loss (3), it helps to combat obesity and all the problems associated with it.
As consumption of animal fats is restricted, it leads to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels too (4). DASH has also demonstrated beneficial effects on insomnia (5), gout (6) and colorectal cancer (7).
In theory, anyone can adopt the DASH diet. It’s a healthy way of eating and provides all the nutrients you need. Before launching into it, however, it’s important to consult your doctor in order to review your state of health. He or she will be able to advise you on any limitations in terms of your diet and potential return to physical activity.
To help you to understand the DASH diet better, here’s a table of the foods to eat and avoid.
|Permitted foods||Restricted foods|
The list of permitted foods above allows for a wide variety of different menus. To maintain it over the long term, it’s a good idea to discover and cook new dishes on a regular basis.
Your individual energy needs depend on your body type, gender and level of physical activity. To devise a menu with exact quantities, it’s best to consult a nutritionist. But to give you a basic idea, here’s a sample day’s menu (you’ll see that DASH recipes are pretty similar to those in a Mediterranean diet) :
Caring for your heart and arteries can also encompass supplementation. Many plants and compounds play a role in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Here are a few ideas to help you choose from the many supplements available.
Hawthorn (or Crataegus pinnatifida) is good for maintaining heart health (8), but that’s not all. It can also be used to support digestion and help treat a sluggish gut (9). It is found in several synergistic formulations (such as Tensix, which also contains magnesium, potassium, and celery seed extract ... or Cardio Booster, also rich in Q10, taurine and vitamin B12).
Have you head of golden root? Also known as Rhodiola rosea, this plant supports a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, as well as good physical and cognitive performance (10-12).
Another interesting plant is chestnut: it plays a role in maintaining a healthy heart and veins (13-14). For a simple, regular intake, take it in the form of capsules (such as the productHorse chestnut extract).
Finally, it’s well worth considering supplementing with omega-3 (EPA, DHA...). These essential fatty acids support the health of your heart, eyes and brain (15-19). They’re readily available in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel or the famous cod liver oil. Or to boost your omega-3 intake, choose supplements containing sustainably-sourced pure fish oil (such as Super Omega 3).