Diet plan for high blood pressure and high cholesterol is important because it not only helps you prevent from cardiovascular diseases, but it can also reduce your blood pressure levels in the long run.
What Is the DASH Diet?
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy. These foods are high in key nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and protein.
The DASH diet can lower blood pressure because it has less salt and sugar than the typical American diet. The DASH diet cuts out desserts, sweetened beverages, fats, red meat, and processed meats.
Women who followed the DASH diet for several years reduced their risks of coronary artery disease and stroke.
To start the DASH diet, follow these recommendations (based on 2,000 calories a day):
- Grains: 7-8 daily servings (serving sizes: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta, 1 ounce dry cereal)
- Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings (1 cup raw leafy greens, 1/2 cup cooked vegetable)
- Fruits: 4-5 daily servings (1 medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 6 ounces fruit juice)
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 daily servings (8 ounces milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1.5 ounces cheese)
- Lean meat, poultry, and fish: 2 or fewer servings a day (3 ounces cooked meat, poultry, or fish)
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 4-5 servings per week (1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoons seeds, 1/2 cup cooked dry beans or peas)
- Fats and oils: 2-3 daily servings (1 teaspoon vegetable oil or soft margarine, 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons light salad dressing)
- Sweets: less than 5 servings per week. (1 tablespoon sugar, jelly, or jam)
Ask your doctor or a dietitian to help you start the DASH diet. They can tell you how many calories you need each day to maintain or get to a healthy weight. And then they can help you plan meals with foods you enjoy that meet the DASH guidelines.
What Are Some High Cholesterol Symptoms?
Unfortunately, high cholesterol is a silent disease, which means it has no symptoms. The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is to get a blood test from a medical provider. The side effects of high cholesterol can be serious because it builds up in our arteries as plaque, which limits blood flow to vital organs. High cholesterol can lead to chest pain, stroke or heart attack if untreated.
High Cholesterol Diet Guidelines
High cholesterol levels are often treated with a combination of prescription medication and diet and lifestyle changes. These healthy eating tips can help to lower your cholesterol to a safe level with or without the use of medication, depending on your individual needs. When you combine these basic high-cholesterol diet guidelines with other healthy lifestyle habits, like exercising daily, not smoking and drinking less alcohol, you’ll see your health improve and cholesterol levels return to a healthy range even faster.
Be selective with your fats
Though it sounds backward, foods high in dietary cholesterol (such as shrimp and eggs) don’t actually seem to raise our body’s cholesterol levels. To lower your cholesterol, limit foods with saturated fats (like red meat, processed meats such as hot dogs and sausage, and cheese and other high-fat dairy items) and instead, go for leaner white meat (like chicken and turkey) and plant-based protein options (like tofu and beans), and switch over to low-fat dairy products. Additionally, you’ll want to include more heart-healthy fats from foods like salmon, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, which help to improve cholesterol levels.
A step that can have an even larger impact on lowering cholesterol levels is eliminating foods made with hydrogenated fats and partially hydrogenated fats (also known as trans fats), which are highly processed fats (commonly found in shelf-stable baked foods and processed peanut butter) that are associated with increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. The FDA has banned food manufacturers from adding trans fats as of January 2020, but still check ingredient lists and avoid products with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats listed.
Up your fiber intake
Increasing your fiber intake can help lower your cholesterol. We do this for you in the meal plan below-every day of the plan contains about 30 grams of fiber, which is the recommended daily amount. Most of us know that fiber plays an important role in keeping our digestive systems moving along, but it can also lower cholesterol by binding to the fat in our gut, which prevents our body from absorbing it. Good sources of fiber are fruits and vegetables, whole grains (like oatmeal and brown rice), as well as beans and lentils.
Eat more whole foods
By eating more whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds and other healthy fats, there will be less room for the not-as-healthy foods that can increase cholesterol levels or contribute to other heart-related issues. Foods (ad drinks) containing excess sodium and added sugars can lead to high blood pressure and weight gain, both of which are precursors to heart disease. If your diet largely consists of healthy whole foods, then those times when you’re really craving a juicy steak or that doughnut will have less of an impact.
DASH Diet and High Blood Pressure
One of the steps your doctor may recommend to lower your high blood pressure is to start using the DASH diet.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (high blood pressure). The diet is simple:
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods
- Cut back on foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats
- Eat more whole-grain foods, fish, poultry, and nuts
- Limit sodium, sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats
In research studies, people who were on the DASH diet lowered their blood pressure within 2 weeks.
Another diet — DASH-Sodium — calls for cutting back sodium to 1,500 milligrams a day (about 2/3 teaspoon). Studies of people on the DASH-Sodium plan lowered their blood pressure as well.
Starting the DASH Diet
The DASH diet calls for a certain number of servings daily from various food groups. The number of servings you require may vary, depending on how many calories you need per day.
You can make gradual changes. For instance, start by limiting yourself to 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day (about 1 teaspoon). Then, once your body has adjusted to the diet, cut back to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day (about 2/3 teaspoon). These amounts include all sodium eaten, including sodium in food products as well as in what you cook with or add at the table.
Dash Diet Tips
- Add a serving of vegetables at lunch and at dinner.
- Add a serving of fruit to your meals or as a snack. Canned and dried fruits are easy to use, but check that they don’t have added sugar.
- Use only half your typical serving of butter, margarine, or salad dressing, and use low-fat or fat-free condiments.
- Drink low-fat or skim dairy products any time you would normally use full-fat or cream.
- Limit meat to 6 ounces a day. Make some meals vegetarian.
- Add more vegetables and dry beans to your diet.
- Instead of snacking on chips or sweets, eat unsalted pretzels or nuts, raisins, low-fat and fat-free yogurt, frozen yogurt, unsalted plain popcorn with no butter, and raw vegetables.
- Read food labels to choose products that are lower in sodium.
Staying on the DASH Diet
The DASH diet suggests getting:
Grains: 7-8 daily servings
Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings
Fruits: 4-5 daily servings
Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 daily servings
Meat, poultry, and fish: 2 or less daily servings
Nuts, seeds, and dry beans: 4-5 servings per week
Fats and oils: 2-3 daily servings
Sweets: try to limit to less than 5 servings per week
How Much Is a Serving?
When you’re trying to follow a healthy eating plan, it helps to know how much of a certain kind of food is considered a “serving.” One serving is:
- 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta
- 1 slice bread
- 1 cup raw vegetables or fruit
- 1/2 cup cooked veggies or fruit
- 8 ounces of milk
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil (or any other oil)
- 3 ounces cooked meat
- 3 ounces tofu
How can I lower cholesterol with diet?
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you
Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:
|Calories per Day||Total Fat||Saturated Fat|
|1,500||42-58 grams||10 grams|
|2,000||56-78 grams||13 grams|
|2,500||69-97 grams||17 grams|
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat; it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL (good cholesterol). Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include:
- Whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal and oat bran
- Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and prunes
- Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chick peas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase important cholesterol-lowering compounds in your diet. These compounds, called plant stanols or sterols, work like soluble fiber.
Eat fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids won’t lower your LDL level, but they may help raise your HDL level. They may also protect your heart from blood clots and inflammation and reduce your risk of heart attack. Fish that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna (canned or fresh), and mackerel. Try to eat these fish two times a week.
Limit salt. You should try to limit the amount of sodium (salt) that you eat to no more than 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon of salt) a day. That includes all the sodium you eat, whether it was added in cooking or at the table, or already present in food products. Limiting salt won’t lower your cholesterol, but it can lower your risk of heart diseases by helping to lower your blood pressure. You can reduce your sodium by instead choosing low-salt and “no added salt” foods and seasonings at the table or while cooking.
Limit alcohol. Alcohol adds extra calories, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight can raise your LDL level and lower your HDL level. Too much alcohol can also increase your risk of heart diseases because it can raise your blood pressure and triglyceride level. One drink is a glass of wine, beer, or a small amount of hard liquor, and the recommendation is that:
- Men should have no more than two drinks containing alcohol a day
- Women should have no more than one drink containing alcohol a day
Nutrition labels can help you figure out how much fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, and sodium is in the foods that you buy.
3 Simple Ways to
Lower Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, and Lose Weight
1. | Avoid Added Sugar
High cholesterol is usually addressed with a low-fat diet, but that’s not the best way to lower cholesterol, cautions Dr. Danine Fruge, Medical Director at the Pritikin Center. Sugar is a sneaky cholesterol elevating culprit. “…the way sugar is metabolized, by anyone who has any belly fat at all, which is almost all of us, [sugar] will eventually turn up as cholesterol in blood work,” explains Dr. Fruge. One of the best ways to lower cholesterol is to avoid sugar. Sugar hides in all sorts of convenience foods, such as sugary beverages, candy, baked treats, prepared sauces, salad dressings, and processed and packaged convenience foods).
What to Eat to Lower Cholesterol
Eating more fiber should be on the top of the list of simple ways to lower cholesterol. You can eat more fiber by simply swapping your white pasta for whole grain, or snacking on a pear instead of a packaged sugar cookie. Fiber helps lower cholesterol by trapping excess cholesterol in the gut. Fiber holds cholesterol captive, then excretes it the next time you visit the porcelain throne. By doing this, fiber reduces how much cholesterol can get absorbed into the bloodstream, ultimately helping to lower your cholesterol.
Simple Ways to Eat More Fiber
- Add vegetables to your egg creations
- Top oatmeal with fresh or frozen berries
- Dip vegetables in hummus for a satisfyingly crunchy snack
- Serve a salad with every dinner
- Sneak finely chopped vegetables into chili, curry, pizza, and soup
- Include peas in your soup, curry, or omelet
- Roast Brussel sprouts as a side dish for dinner
2. | Sneak in More Vegetables
Eating fiber is a quick, simple way to lower cholesterol, naturally. Most American adults do not eat a lot of fiber (average 16 grams per day). Experts, like the team of Nutritionists at the Pritikin Center, suggest eating about 35-50 grams of fiber per day. A simple way to bump up your fiber intake is to add a few more whole foods into your meals. Whole foods include vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains. It’s as simple as adding a handful of berries to your morning bowl of oatmeal or including tomato and lettuce to your sandwich. Why stop there? Eating vegetables is one of the simplest ways to lower cholesterol, high blood pressure, and lose weight.
3. | Exercise Regularly
Whether you’re breaking a sweat doing fun dance moves in your kitchen, lifting weights, or striding down the road, according to evidence from 13 published investigations, doing exercise helps lower cholesterol. Finding simple ways to lower cholesterol is important, as chronic high cholesterol can lead to coronary heart disease. Ready to get moving? Choose an exercise that brings you joy: that could be yoga on a mat at home, with friends at a Rumba class, or a lively game of tag with the kids at the park.
How Much Exercise is Best to Lower Cholesterol?
Research to date hasn’t concluded on a finite number of ideal minutes of exercise; however, evidence points to including both aerobic exercise and resistance training to benefit cardiovascular health. If you need another little boost to get some pep in your step, know that research shows exercise lowers cholesterol, high blood pressure, and helps you lose weight.
Can Exercise Lower High Blood Pressure?
Add exercise into your plans today as it’s a simple way to lower high blood pressure. Experts note, in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, that aerobic exercise can be an effective treatment for blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Aerobic exercise is sometimes called a cardio workout, which involves increasing your heart rate with significant movement, but still being able to maintain a conversation (the term aerobic means with oxygen). Adding aerobic exercise into your day can be easy – it requires no equipment at all! Make it fun by adding music, or involving a friend.
How Much Exercise is Required to Reduce High Blood Pressure?
According to a study in the American Journal of Hypertension, even moderate increases in physical activity can lower high blood pressure in sedentary people. To lower high blood pressure, you do not have to join a gym or decide to become a marathon runner. Start with a small, attainable goal to take 500 more steps, or to fit in 5 more minutes of physical activity today than yesterday. When you make small, attainable goals you can achieve and build confidence each step of your way towards a healthier you.
Do I Have to Exercise to Lose Weight?
Interestingly, experts have shown exercise appears to help you keep the weight off! According to a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who exercised as part of a weight loss program were less likely to regain weight. It’s important to find a way to enjoy physical activity, and get advice on how to exercise without pain. A proper exercise plan created by Certified Personal Trainers, and small, sustainable goals is the key to successful weight loss.
How to Exercise to Lower Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, and Lose Weight
Are you ready to get moving? The fitness experts at Pritikin have got some helpful at-home workouts ready for you. Yes, you can start today! Breaking into a sweat in a way that makes you smile can be one of the most fun, yet simple ways to lower cholesterol, high blood pressure, and lose weight. Most importantly, moving your body feels great – exercise is well known to boost your mood.