How to have Indian Food in the DASH Diet?

Harmonise vibrant Indian flavours with DASH diet principles for heart health, embracing spices and mindful choices in a delicious fusion.


It is also considered a well-balanced and flexible eating plan

Among the standout dietary plans is the DASH diet.

It is a scientifically backed approach to manage blood pressure and promote overall heart health.

But for those with a penchant for the vibrant and aromatic world of Indian cuisine, questions may arise about aligning the rich flavours of Indian dishes with the principles of the DASH diet.

We embark on a flavorful exploration, unravelling the art of incorporating Indian food into the DASH diet.

From the vibrant array of ingredients to have to what not to have, we delve into how traditional Indian fare can harmonise with the DASH diet guidelines.

Join us as we discover a fusion of health-conscious choices and cultural culinary delights, creating a path where heart-healthy living and the joy of Indian flavours converge.

What is the DASH Diet?

How to have Indian Food in the DASH Diet - what

The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is designed to help prevent and manage hypertension (high blood pressure).

It was developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the US National Institutes of Health.

The primary goal is to promote heart health by reducing sodium intake and emphasising the consumption of nutrient-rich foods.

The DASH diet is known for its potential to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

It is also considered a well-balanced and flexible eating plan that can be adopted for overall health and wellness.

The DASH diet has been shown to be effective in reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, and improving overall heart health.

It is often recommended by healthcare professionals, particularly for individuals with high blood pressure or those at risk of developing high blood pressure.

Additionally, the DASH diet aligns with many general dietary guidelines for promoting overall well-being.

However, individuals should consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making significant changes to their diet, especially if they have existing health conditions.

Does the Diet benefit South Asians?

How to have Indian Food in the DASH Diet - benefit

High blood pressure can affect people of any ethnic background, and South Asians are not exempt from this health concern.

However, there are some studies and observations that suggest a higher prevalence of hypertension among South Asian populations compared to some other ethnic groups.

Studies have shown that people of a South Asian background are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.

Several factors contribute to this and one of the main reasons is dietary habits.

Typically, Indian foods are high in sodium and saturated fats. This is due to certain ingredients such as cream and cooking techniques.

A lack of physical activity is also common among South Asian people, with 55% of British South Asians being physically active.

Although that is over half, it is lower than the national average of 63.1%.

This contributes to obesity, which is strongly associated with an increased risk of hypertension.

Given that the DASH diet is centred around managing high blood pressure, it would benefit people of South Asian heritage.

Dietitian Catherine Christie says:

“It’s mainly focused on lowering blood pressure, which improves heart health.”

“These foods are also satiating.”

Indian Food in a DASH Diet

How to have Indian Food in the DASH Diet - indian

The DASH diet is a plant-heavy diet that includes lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts, low-fat and non-fat dairy, lean meat like chicken and fish, and heart-healthy fats.

Given that many Indian dishes are plant-based, they can meet the DASH diet guidelines.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), potassium will help manage high blood pressure.

This is down to potassium and sodium working together to maintain a balance of fluids in and around cells.

Sodium tends to increase blood pressure by promoting water retention, while potassium helps counteract this effect by promoting the excretion of sodium through urine.

Achieving a proper balance between sodium and potassium is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

Given that potassium-rich ingredients are used in Indian cooking, some dishes to make include:

  • Avocado Paratha
  • Pazham Pori
  • South Indian Yam Curry

Magnesium may also lower blood pressure and such foods include spinach, almonds, peanuts and cashews. Try these Indian nut dishes to get magnesium on a vegetarian diet:

  • Cashew curry sauce
  • Chaat masala
  • Almond korma

When it comes to incorporating Indian food into the DASH diet, it is important to also include foods that are rich in fibre, calcium and protein.

Indian options that fit this profile include:

  • Legumes
  • Lentils
  • Kidney Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Whole-grain chapati
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Non-fat milk or yoghurt
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fruits such as apples, dates and sapota
  • Vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, tomatoes and mung bean sprouts

What Foods should you Avoid?

When following a DASH diet, it is important to cut out some foods in order to prevent an increase in blood pressure.

Overly Salty Foods

Cut down on salty foods like chips, namkeen and other condiments.

Limit the amount the salt you use in your regular cooking. Alternatively, switch to salts that have a lower sodium content like Himalayan salt.

Caffeine

Caffeinated drinks like coffee and fizzy drinks spike your blood pressure as caffeine constricts your blood vessels.

Limit your consumption of coffee to one cup a day or switch to drinks with a lower caffeine content, such as tea.

Saturated Fats

High-fat foods such as spicy bonda and fried bread (bhature) can clog your arteries and narrow them, which could worsen hypertension.

Switch to healthy sources of unsaturated fats like nuts and seeds.

Added Sugars

Store-bought desserts and baked goods like ariselu contain high amounts of added sugars.

These foods can encourage weight gain and may damage your blood vessels in the long term.

Cut down your intake of these products to once or twice a week and replace them with sources of natural sugar like fruit.

Alcohol

Long-term consumption of alcohol or binge drinking can cause ill effects, elevated blood pressure levels being one of them.

Diet Plan

How to have Indian Food in the DASH Diet

As we conclude our exploration of incorporating Indian food into the DASH diet, we find that the key lies in mindful choices and thoughtful modifications.

By embracing the bountiful array of spices, herbs and wholesome ingredients intrinsic to Indian cooking, individuals can craft a DASH-friendly menu that not only supports cardiovascular health but also celebrates the cultural richness of Indian culinary traditions.

From incorporating potassium-rich ingredients to avoiding saturated fats, the possibilities are as diverse as the spices that adorn the Indian spice rack.

As we bid farewell to this culinary odyssey, let us carry forward the understanding that the intersection of health and flavour need not be a compromise but rather a celebration.

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”



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