Image via WikipediaIt is no wonder that the DASH diet, was rated by experts as the most healthy and nutritional diet in US News and World Report. The DASH diet was originally designed to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), and includes a whopping 8-12 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Admittedly, the diet does allow up to 2 servings of lean meat per day, but would the DASH diet be even more effective if meat servings were eliminated? In fact just one single high-fat meal can increase blood pressure. (Jakulj F, Zernicke K, Bacon SL, Wielingen L, et al. A High-Fat Meal Increases Cardiovascular Reactivity to Psychological Stress in Healthy Young Adults. J Nutr. 2007;137:935-939).
According to Dr. Rashmi Sinha, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute, elevated blood pressure has been shown to be associated with eating more red and processed meat.
There are numerous studies that indicate that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are greatly beneficial in reducing all the risks of heart disease, in particular hypertension. This can be attributed to the abundant amount of antioxidants in fresh produce. Scientists also believe that the nitrates found in plant food plays a big role in reducing hypertension. Nitrates can be found in spinach, lettuce, and it is particularly high in beets. In one study, participants who drank two cups of beet juice had a significant drop in blood pressure one hour later, and the beneficial effects lasted up to 24 hours. Vegetable protein high in glutamic acid is also known to lower blood pressure—to include soy beans, peppers, and lentils.