Hypertension is a serious health condition that affects people of all ages across the globe, irrespective of their geographical location and lifestyle. As per the 2012 global health statistics released by World Health Organization, India alone accounts for 15% of world's uncontrolled hypertension patients. That is about 23.10% men and 22.60% women over the age of 25 years who suffer from this disease. Heart disease prevention is one of the prime reasons for urban masses concentrating on fitness. However, prevalence of hypertension is traced in rural areas too, where physical strain is excessive. Many bear a misconception that hypertension can be diagnosed early with a certain set of obvious symptoms like headache, nose bleeds, dizziness, lack of breath and several others. However, the truth continues to be neglected.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure is an asymptomatic disease in general. A person can be suffering from hypertension for years, without even knowing it. The best way to deal with it is early diagnosis and prevention. Stress, excessive salt intake and lack of healthy heart-friendly nutrients in diet being the main causes of HBP, a healthy diet and regular exercise routine is always emphasized by the health experts. As it becomes a bit difficult to count the fat contents of foods, every time before eating, the doctors have proposed a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) strategy that effectively lowers the blood pressure.

A DASH diet basically focuses on enjoying a wholesome diet, with the inclusion of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts and low fat dairy products on a daily basis. As red meat, excess sodium sodium and synthetic sugars aggravate the situation, DASH diet solely concentrates on the consumption on food that score high on healthy fats and rich nutrients that maintain the blood pressure. To help you get started, here is a simple healthy food guide that is easy to follow and helps prevent hypertension effectively.

As the nutrition requirements varies from individual to individual, the nutrition data stated here is calculated in terms of 2000 calories per day. Below is a sample DASH diet plan for various food groups and their total number of servings per day.

DASH Diet – 2000 calories / day

Whole grains: 6 to 8 servings of a whole grain bread slice or 1/2 cup of cooked rice.
Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings of 1 cup raw leafy veggies or 1/2 cup cooked vegetables.
Fruits: 4 to 5 servings of 1 medium sized fruit, 1/2 cup mixed fresh fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit or 1/2 cup fruit juice.
Dairy: 2 to 3 servings of 1 cup low fat milk or yogurt.
Poultry, lean meat and fish: 6 servings of egg (cut down on yolks) or 1 oz. cooked poultry / fish.
Legumes, nuts and seeds: 4 to 5 servings per week of 2 tbsp of peanut butter or 1.5 oz. nuts or 1/2 cup of cooked beans / lentils.
Fats and oils: 2 to 3 servings of 1 tsp vegetable oil.
Deserts with artificial sugar: 4 to 5 servings per week of foods containing 1 tablespoon sugar.
Sodium: 1500 to 2300 mg / day.

To meet your daily calorie goals, request a dietitian to create a Dash diet for you.