6R27SJPMJJ99 What is hypertension?
Hypertension is blood pressure that persistently stays higher than normal. Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls as the heart pumps blood through the body. Blood pressure can be unhealthy if it exceeds 140/90. (140 refers to the highest level reached with each heartbeat, and the 90, the low between these beats.) The higher your blood pressure, the greater the health risks. If you think that’s not your problem, think again, for this condition affects at least one third of our adult population!
High blood pressure can be controlled or prevented if you take these steps:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Be physically active.
- Follow a healthy eating plan, which includes foods that do not contain a lot of salt (sodium}, often referred to as the DASH diet..
- Do not drink a lot of alcohol.
Diet affects high blood pressure. “DASH” stands for “dietary approaches to stop hypertension.” Following the DASH diet and reducing the amount of sodium in your diet will help lower your blood pressure. If pressure is presently normal, this diet will also help prevent high blood pressure, which, as noted, is extremely common.
What is the DASH diet?
The DASH diet is a diet that is low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, and total fat. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. The DASH diet also includes whole-grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts. It encourages fewer servings of red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages. It is rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber.
How do I get started on the DASH diet?
The DASH diet requires no special foods and has no hard-to-follow recipes. Start by seeing how DASH compares with your current eating habits.
The DASH eating plan illustrated below is based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day. Your healthcare provider or a dietitian can help you determine how many calories a day you need. Most adults need somewhere between 1600 and 2800 calories a day, which varies according to physical activity. Serving sizes for different foods vary from 1/2 cup to 1 and 1/4 cups. Check product nutrition labels for serving sizes and the number of calories per serving.
Make changes gradually. Here are some suggestions that might help:
- If you now eat fewer than 1 or 2 servings of vegetables a day, add a serving at lunch and another at dinner.
- Puree vegetables and add them into soups, stews, and sauces.
- If you have not been eating fruit regularly, or have only juice at breakfast, add a serving to your meals or have it as a snack.
- Drink milk or water with lunch or dinner instead of soda, sugar-sweetened tea, or alcohol. Choose low-fat (1%) or fat-free (nonfat) dairy products so that you are eating fewer calories and less saturated and trans fat, total fat, and cholesterol.
- Read food labels on margarines and salad dressings to choose products lowest in fat and sodium.
- If you now eat large portions of meat, slowly cut back—by a half or a third at each meal. Limit meat to 6 ounces a day (two 3-ounce servings). Three to 4 ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.
- Have 2 or more meatless meals each week. Increase servings of vegetables, rice, pasta, and beans in all meals. Try casseroles, pasta, and stir-fry dishes, which have less meat and more vegetables, grains, and beans.
- Use fruits canned in their own juice. Fresh fruits require little or no preparation. Dried fruits are a good choice to carry with you or to have ready in the car.
- Try these snacks ideas: unsalted pretzels or nuts mixed with raisins, graham crackers, low-fat and fat-free yogurt or frozen yogurt, popcorn with no salt or butter added, and raw vegetables.
- Choose whole-grain foods to get more nutrients, including minerals and fiber. For example, choose whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereals, or brown rice. Although whole grains are a healthy choice, large portions can lead to weight gain. A portion of grain is 1/2 to 1 cup. A cup of food is about the same size as your fist.
- Use fresh, frozen, or no-salt-added canned vegetables.
· Remember to also reduce the salt and sodium in your diet. Try to have no more than 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, with a goal of further reducing the sodium to 1500 mg per day. Two thirds of a teaspoon of table salt equals about 1500 mg of sodium. However, even if you can’t achieve these goals, recent research shows that even modest reductions in salt intake can produce lesser, but beneficial, reductions in blood pressure.
Some important ways to reduce sodium are the following:
- Eat food products with reduced-sodium or no salt added. In general, canned soups contain far too much sodium.
- Use less salt when you prepare foods and do not add salt to your food at the table.
- Read food labels. Aim for foods that contain less than 5% of the daily value of sodium
- Watch out for sodium hidden in canned sauces, instant soups, salad dressings, frozen dinners and packaged foods in general.
- Avoid large portions of baked goods, such as pancakes and biscuits, which are extremely high in sodium due to the baking soda content.
- When eating at restaurants or grocery shopping, choose low sodium alternatives.
The DASH eating plan is not designed for weight loss. But it contains many lower-calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables. You can make it lower in calories by replacing high-calorie foods with more fruits and vegetables. Some ideas to increase fruits and vegetables and decrease calories include:
- Eat a medium apple instead of 4 shortbread cookies. You’ll save 80 calories.
- Eat 1/4 cup of dried apricots instead of a 2-ounce bag of pork rinds. You’ll save 230 calories.
- Have a hamburger that’s 3 ounces instead of 6 ounces. Add a 1/2 cup serving of carrots and a 1/2 cup serving of spinach. You’ll save more than 200 calories.
- Instead of 5 ounces of chicken, have a stir fry with 2 ounces of chicken and 1 and 1/2 cups of raw vegetables. Use just a small amount of vegetable oil. You’ll save 50 calories.
- Have a 1/2 cup serving of low-fat frozen yogurt instead of a 1-and-1/2-ounce chocolate bar. You’ll save about 110 calories.
- Use low-fat or fat-free condiments, such as fat-free salad dressings.
- Eat smaller portions. Cut back gradually.
- Use food labels to compare fat and calorie content in packaged foods. Items marked low fat or fat free may be lower in fat but not lower in calories than their regular versions.
- Limit foods with lots of added sugar, such as pies, flavored yogurts, candy bars, ice cream, sherbet, regular soft drinks, and fruit drinks.
- Drink water or club soda instead of cola or other soda drinks.
For more information, see the Guide to Lowering your Blood Pressure with DASH at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/dash_brief.pdf