Lowering High Blood Pressure: A DASH May Do It

Are you trying to live healthier — and control your blood pressure? Here’s a four-pronged approach that may help: your fork.

Choosing a heart-healthy diet may be a simple and effective way to help lower — and maybe even prevent — high blood pressure, also called hypertension. One of the best examples of this is an eating plan called DASH. That stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

The DASH diet is rich in nutrients and low in sodium. According to the National Institutes of Health, it’s been proven to lower high blood pressure. And that may take a big bite out of your risk for both heart attack and stroke — and other health conditions too.

Ready to dig in?

The DASH plan is not just healthy — it’s tasty and satisfying too. In fact, it can be a good change for the entire family. With DASH, you:

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Limit salt and sodium
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • Include whole grains, fish, skinless poultry, beans, seeds and nuts
  • Go easy on red meat, saturated and trans fats and sugar

Of course, portion control and getting regular exercise matter too.

A DASH day

Here’s a sample of a DASH meal plan for one day. It’s for an adult on a 2,000-calorie, low-sodium diet. Your needs may be different. So talk with your doctor to find out what’s right for you.

Breakfast

1/2 cup oatmeal with 1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

1 mini whole-wheat bagel with 1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 medium banana

 

1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk

Lunch

Chicken sandwich with:

• 3 ounces skinless chicken breast

• 2 slices whole-wheat bread

• 1 slice low-sodium Swiss cheese

• 2 slices tomato

• 1 tablespoon low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise

1 cup cantaloupe chunks

 

1 cup 100 percent apple juice

 

Dinner

1 cup cooked spaghetti with:

• 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetarian spaghetti sauce

• 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Spinach salad:

• 1 cup fresh spinach leaves

• 1/4 cup grated carrots

• 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

• 1 tablespoon vinegar and oil dressing

1/2 cup corn, cooked from frozen

 

1/2 cup canned pears, packed in juice

Snacks

1/3 cup unsalted almonds

 

1/4 cup dried apricots

 

1 cup fat-free fruit yogurt, no sugar added

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Keep in mind …

DASH may help better control your blood pressure. But it doesn’t take the place of medicines your doctor may prescribe.

If you have questions about your treatment plan, talk with your doctor. And if you think the DASH eating plan may help, ask your doctor for advice about getting started.

What to do next

Check out another option for eating for heart health: the Mediterranean diet. It’s similar to DASH in many ways — and promotes an overall heart-healthy lifestyle. Both eating plans emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Download Eating for a Healthy Heart at uhc.com/heart-diet-booklet.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical or other advice. Talk to an appropriate health care professional to determine what may be right for you.

Last reviewed July 2017

© 2017 United HealthCare Services, Inc.