The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was created to avoid hypertension and lower blood cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that people who adhere to this kind of diet lowered their blood pressure within just two weeks.

Diet For Good Physical And Mental Health

Findings of a new study now reveal another advantage of the DASH diet. Researchers said that the popular diet, which is rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free, and low-fat dairy products and limit intake of food high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat, can also reduce depression.

In the study involving 964 participants, researcher Laurel Cherian, from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues found that the people who followed the DASH diet more closely had 11 percent reduced risk of becoming depressed than those who did not follow the diet closely.

They researchers likewise found that those who followed a diet high in saturated fats and red meats and low in fruit and vegetables had higher odds of developing depression.

Starting A DASH Diet

DASH diet calls for a particular number of servings from different food groups. The number of servings people need depends on the amount of calories needed daily.

Those who want to start a DASH diet can make gradual changes as simple as limiting the amount of sodium intake per day to about 1 tablespoon. Once the body has adjusted, reduce the sodium to about 1,500 milligrams daily, which is equivalent to about two-thirds of a teaspoon. This amount covers all sodium eaten, which include those in food products and those cooked and served at the table.

Instead of having chips or sweets for snacks, go for fruits. Canned and dried fruits are easy to use, but some contain added sugar. Unsalted nuts, pretzels, and raisins, as well as low-fat yogurt and vegetable are also good options.

Use only half of the normal serving of butter and salad dressings and opt for low-fat condiments and dairy products. Add more servings of fruit and vegetables. Prepare vegetarian meals to limit meat consumption. Read food labels to avoid buying food products high in salt and sugar.

"By adopting the habit of reading food labels, you can choose foods more wisely. Watch for foods that have saturated fat or trans fat — factors that can raise your cholesterol. Eating foods that are high in sodium (salt) can increase blood pressure. Generally, the higher your salt intake, the higher your blood pressure," the American Heart Association advised.

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