The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan created by the National Institutes of Health to help those with hypertension or pre-hypertension. Studies have found that following this eating plan can produce many more benefits, including lowering cholesterol. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are akin to each other. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when too much force is pushing on the artery walls, making your heart work harder to do its job efficiently.

High cholesterol can be one of the causes of hypertension by increasing the build-up of plaque on the artery walls. So control cholesterol and you’ll have hypertension in the bag, too. Here are the DASH recommendations:

4-6 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, 6-12 daily servings of whole grains, 2-4 daily servings of low- to non-fat dairy, 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 daily servings of lean meat, fish or poultry, and 3-6 servings per week of nuts, seeds and legumes.The servings vary depending on your weight and recommendations by your doctor. You’ll find that this diet is high in fiber, low in fat and salt, rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. The CDC also recommends reducing your intake of saturated fat to less than 7% and limiting consumption of cholesterol to 200 mg a day to lower cholesterol. As a bonus, these dietary changes combined with regular exercise, can help you shed those unwanted pounds, which will in turn decrease blood cholesterol. More details about the DASH diet can be found on dashdiet.org.

"Your stomach shouldn’t be a waist basket." - Author Unknown