Reduce Blood Pressure with the DASH Diet

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Season 1, Episode 6 Guests Drs. Frank Sacks and Larry Appel

In this landmark interview, the first ever recorded interview of Drs. Appel and Sacks together, we discuss the origins and merits of the heart healthy, blood pressure lowering, cholesterol lowering, DASH Diet.

Although known most famously as the DASH Diet, DASH is really an “eating plan” – a much more accurate and comprehensive term than “diet.” The DASH acronym means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

Dr. Frank Sacks, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, along with Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Appel, Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, are the originators of DASH. This famous eating plan has consistently ranked as one of the best and healthiest eating plans because it contains all the foods you’re supposed to eat: fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, lean protein and low fat dairy. The DASH Eating Plan is best known for successes in preventing or reducing high blood pressure. 

The standard DASH diet limits sodium to 2,300 mg a day which meets the recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

DASH includes variations such as the OmniHeart, a protein and unsaturated fat rich version that provides additional benefits to further reduce risk of heart disease.

The OmniCarb version of the DASH Eating Plan compared high- and low-glycemic index foods and concluded that using glycemic index is not recommended.

And as always, there are plenty of actionable nuggets to take away from each episode that will increase the odds of your adding not only years to your life, but life to your years!

If you’re interested in Metabolic Health, Nutrition, Longevity or Wellness, you’re not going to want miss this episode.

Key Points to Reduce Blood Pressure with the DASH Diet

* The DASH Diet can improve blood pressure in as little as 2-6 weeks and reduce the need for medication.

*The DASH Diet is a plant forward eating plan, rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains that is a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life.

*DASH includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans and nuts.

*It limits foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products and tropical oils (coconut, palm and palm kernel), as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.

*Lifestyle changes such as maintaining healthy weight, exercising, and not smoking can also help lower your blood pressure.

*Sodium intake is capped at 2300 mg/day. Read labels, choose lower sodium foods and your taste buds will adapt to a lower sodium dietary plan.


Sodium and Health: Old Myths and a Controversy Based on Denial:

Frank Sacks Head Shot Dr. Frank Sacks

Dr. Sacks is Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in the Nutrition Department of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Sacks led the panel that designed the DASH Study, which crafted a healthful eating pattern and demonstrated that it lowered blood pressure more effectively than any previous dietary treatment.  Subsequently Dr. Sacks led the DASH-Sodium study, which determined the dose-response effect of dietary sodium on BP. These multi-center National Heart Lung and Blood Institute trials found major beneficial additive effects of low salt and a dietary pattern rich in fruits and vegetables on blood pressure. He also led the landmark PoundsLost trial which showed the effectiveness of several healthy diets with differing fat, carbohydrate and protein content on long term weight loss. Currently, he is studying the role of diet to prevent cognitive decline in aging. His laboratory studies human HDL metabolism and subspeciation.

Dr. Sacks received the 2011 Research Achievement Award of the American Heart Association for lifetime research accomplishment; and the Distinguished Scientist Award in 2020.

Larry Appel Headshot Dr. Larry Appel

Lawrence J. Appel is the C. David Molina Professor of Medicine and Director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins University, a joint program of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Appel is a primary care internist who holds a primary appointment in the Department of Medicine with joint appointments in the Department of Epidemiology, International Health, and Nursing. In addition, he directs the ProHealth Clinical Research Unit. The focus of his career is the conduct of clinical, epidemiologic, and translational research pertaining to the prevention and control of high blood pressure, cardiovascular-kidney diseases, and other chronic conditions, primarily through nutrition-based interventions.

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