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DASH Through the Snow to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Lifestyle changes may help reduce need for medicine

The holiday season is filled with snow, sitting by the fire, wrapping presents, singing carols, and preparing holiday meals. The holidays are usually known for tasty indulgences and increasing waist lines, but this year, it could be different! According to a recent study, the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) lifestyle may decrease the need for blood pressure-lowering medications and make your holiday season a whole lot brighter (its filled with colorful fruits and vegetables!).

To reduce blood pressure, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend making lifestyle changes first. This means, making long term changes in our diet and exercise. One type of lifestyle change known as the DASH diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure by focusing on whole grains, beans and legumes, increasing fruit and vegetables and  limiting dairy to low fat and fat free options.    

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill decided to put the DASH lifestyle to the test in a 16-week randomized control trial, the gold standard study design. One hundred twenty nine participants, 40-80 years old were put into 3 groups.  None of the participants were taking blood pressure medications, however lab analysis suggests that about half would benefit from taking them.  One group followed the DASH eating plan, and took part in a weight management program that included exercise. With the help of a nutrition professional, the second group followed the DASH eating plan only. The third group did not change their diet or exercise habits at all. 

At the end of the study, lab results showed vastly different numbers regarding need for blood pressure medications.  The blood pressure of those in the diet and exercise group dropped 35% and those following the diet only dropped 27% while the control group had no change.  These results suggest that diet alone with the DASH eating plan can make significant strides in lowering your blood pressure, without the need for medications.

Try making a lasting impression on your health this season through a lifestyle change with the DASH eating plan.  This diet is as powerful as some medications, so it’s possible that you may even reduce the need for them as a result (just be sure to speak with your doctor before stopping any prescriptions)!

Interested in following the DASH diet?  Our Dole recipes make it easy to find DASH friendly recipes, as many of them include whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and focus on lean proteins—and all complimented with fruits and vegetables.  We suggest our Broccoli and Fruit Slaw or Shaved Vegetables Greens and Curry Salad to get you started!

Published December 1, 2018

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