The Dash diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, in English, or dietary approach to stop hypertension), developed in the United States, does not reduce weight, nor even interfere with salt intake by the patient, but even so it shows significant results in decreasing pressure.
The first research on this type of diet was developed in the United States in the late 1990s, with the specific objective of assessing the impact on hypertensive patients, says the cardiologist at InCor and a member of the Brazilian Society of Hypertension (SBH), Heno Lopes, who studied the effects of this diet in his postdoctoral fellowship. “Until then, the recommendation for hypertensive patients was to always reduce salt. But with this diet, the patient starts to take care of hypertension with a focus on other components ”, says the doctor.
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Hypertension is usually linked to overweight, says the cardiologist. And just so that, in the study mentioned above, there was no interference of weight loss in the blood pressure numbers, it was avoided to change the result on the scale. “The goal was to keep the weight off so as not to cause the pressure to drop due to this weight loss,” he explains.
Fault of potassium
From the research it was concluded that the “secret” of the Dash diet would be in potassium. And that eating foods rich in the concentration of this mineral would make it possible to reduce blood pressure levels, says nutritionist director of SBH’s nutrition department, Márcia Gowdak.
“When you increase your potassium consumption, your urine excretes sodium. It is the opposite effect of salt ”, describes the nutritionist, who clarifies that potassium supplementation is not enough to improve cardiovascular risks. It is the combination of a number of factors in food intake that provides the benefit.
The Dash diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, with an indication of consumption of 5 servings a day, as well as calcium, from milk and dairy products, in addition to a reduced consumption of saturated fat. “This study was a milestone for us because it was concluded that those who are hypertensive do not only have to reduce salt and lose weight, but improve the overall quality of their food”, he says.
Another benefit of this type of food is to prevent the development of the disease. “In the group of pre-hypertensive patients studied, those on the diet did not evolve to medication,” says Márcia. According to her, there are many cases, too, of those who reduced the concentration of medicines due to better results after starting to control the diet.
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