The Diet That Lowers Blood Pressure and Cholesterol, Control Weight, and Prevent Diabetes

October 3, 2014 Updated: October 3, 2014

Reports from Harvard School of Public Health shows that a diet rich in plants lowers high blood pressure . It’s called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.) Other studies show that similar eating patterns lower cholesterol, help to control diabetes and cause weight loss in people who are overweight.

It took only two weeks for the diet to have an effect and after eight weeks, 70 percent of those eating the DASH diet had normal blood pressures, compared to 45 percent on the fruits-and-vegetables diet and 23 percent on the control diet. The authors feel that increasing minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium lowers high blood pressure perhaps by suppressing calcium regulating hormones that close blood vessels. The diet appears to act the same way as the diuretics that are the most common drugs prescribed to control blood pressure: it gets rid of excess sodium.

Most people will not have their high blood pressure lowered just by restricting salt. These studies show that a diet to lower high blood pressure should be rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, contain beans, seeds, nuts and low-fat dairy products, and limit everything else.

Here’s a day on the DASH diet: 8 servings of grains, 5 servings of vegetables, 5 servings of fruit, 2-3 servings of skim or low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese a serving of nuts, seeds or beans, 1-2 servings of meat, poultry or fish, restrict sweets and fats

You should immediately notice that this is basically the diet that I have recommended for more than 30 years. Here’s MY MODIFIED DASH DIET for total heart health — to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, control weight, and prevent or control diabetes:

  • Up to 8 servings of whole grains (not flour)
  • At least 5 vegetables
  • At least 5 fruits
  • Up to 3 low fat dairy products (optional)
  • Up to 2 servings of seafood (I recommend that you avoid meat from mammals)
  • Beans or legumes (no limit)
  • 1-2 tablespoons nuts or snack seeds
  • Up to 3 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
  • Avoid added sugars and other refined carbohydrates
  • MOST IMPORTANT-Exercise!

Note: Serving sizes are typically 1/2 cup of cooked foods, 1 cup of raw fruits or vegetables.

To see if you are among the eighty percent of people who can control blood pressure with this diet, try my SHOW ME! diet for just two weeks. You (and your doctor) will be amazed.

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 Image of “fruits and carrots” via Shutterstock