Decreasing Portions on the Dash Diet: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
Numerous patients have asked what they can do to get off medications for hypertension as they may be costly and be associated with side effects. Unfortunately, only a very small minority actually does the work necessary to get off the medications. It does require some lifestyle changes to bring down the blood pressure. These changes include getting the body weight down to its optimal number. This is not what your friends think you should look like, but is rather what is best for your body. Obesity (a problem of epidemic proportions in our country) is never what your body needs. “But I have always been overweight” is not a reason to remain so, it is part of why you got to where you are (high blood pressure). Getting to an optimal weight does not require starvation or emaciation, but it does require setting some goals and making some changes in diet.
Set realistic goals with the help of your doctor and use a diet that will get you there. Also, although a regular exercise program will also help in blood pressure control, you cannot lose weight by merely increasing exercise. Fortunately, we often see results from diets after the first 5 or 10 lbs. While some of the more popular programs such as Weight Watchers, Diet Workshop, etc. do help with weight control, the most well-researched regimen to lower blood pressure is the DASH diet. Since the column must be short, I cannot describe it totally here, but it involves redefining serving size, creating a more healthy diet, and not allowing yourself to feel like you are starving. You may even find that the MacDonald’s near you has adapted to the apple, nuts and yogurt crowd.
Some useful web links are www.nhlbi and www.americanheartassociation.org.
A serving size is ½ to one and ¼ cups depending upon cereal type check the nutrition label for serving size
One tablespoon of regular salad dressing equals one serving; 1 tablespoon of low-fat dressing equals one-half serving, 1 tablespoon of fat free dressing equals 0 servings
Food group Servings for 2000 calories per day
Grains and grain products 7-8
Low-fat or fat-free milk and dairy 2-3
Meats, poultry and fish 2-3
Nuts, seeds and dried beans 4 to 5 per week
Fats and oils 2-3
Sweets 5 per week
How does cholesterol affect my blood pressure?
Actually they don’t affect one another directly at all. But elevated blood cholesterol makes the blood vessels thicker and more resistant to blood flow. Over time, this and small deposits of cholesterol cause the blood vessel to become stiff, making the heart having to work harder and at a higher pressure to maintain proper flow. With age, the development of “systolic hypertension” becomes much more common.
Published On: November 09, 2006