Wellness begins with a healthy diet. In fact, eating healthier foods improves many health problems. This includes high blood pressure (hypertension). The right foods can lower your blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to lower your blood pressure and LDL (bad cholesterol). Read more about DASH Diet to Control Your Blood Pressure
The DASH diet promotes balanced nutrition and portion control. It encourages the introduction of more fruits and vegetables, whole foods, poultry, fish, nuts & fat-free or low-fat dairy products into your daily diet. It recommends reducing foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fats, sweets, sugary drinks, sodium (salt) and red meats.
Some people suffer from high blood pressure because of a family history. For others, poor diet, lack of exercise or other medical condition can be the cause of guilt. People with high blood pressure often take medications. However, diet and exercise can help reduce high blood pressure, even if this is part of your family history.
Enhanced Wellness Path
Following the DASH diet is simple. It does not require any special or pre-packaged meals. It relies on many standard foods that you already have in your home. When you follow the DASH diet, you eat about 2,000 calories per day. These calories come from a variety of foods.
The DASH recommendation includes:
- Whole grains (6 to 8 servings per day).
- Vegetables (4 to 5 servings per day).
- Fruits (4 to 5 servings per day).
- Milk and low-fat or fat-free dairy products (2-3 servings per day).
- Minced meat, fish, and poultry (6 servings or less per day).
- Nuts, beans, and seeds (4 to 5 servings per week).
- Healthy fats and oils (2 to 3 servings per day).
- Sweets, preferably low fat or no fat (5 or less per week).
- Sodium (not more than 2300 mg per day).
If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to 2 drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less per day for women.
To reduce your blood pressure, even more, replace some DASH diet carbohydrates with unsaturated proteins and fats low in fat.
For weight loss, reduce your daily calories to 1,600 per day. Lower your sodium to more than 1,500 mg per day if you are 40 or older, are African American or if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Adopt the DASH diet to meet your needs. For example, eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can offer some protection against cancer, osteoporosis, strokes, and diabetes. Immediate results are possible with the DASH regimen. Blood pressure could drop a few points in just 2 weeks. However, continue taking your blood pressure medication and consult your doctor.
Things to consider
- Do not be discouraged if monitoring the DASH diet is difficult at first. Start with small achievable goals. The following ideas can help you make healthy changes.
- It is easier to track your food if you keep a journal of what you eat each day. Note the sodium content, if possible.
- Do not throw away the towel if the DASH diet seems overwhelming at first. Try to make one or two changes at a time until you can do everything.
- Learn to read labels. By knowing the size of the serving, you know how much sodium you get per serving.
- Slow down when you eat.
- Use spices and herbs to taste your food instead of salt.
Choose less processed foods (frozen meals, canned soups, packaged mixes, etc.). These contain more sodium.
- Look for foods that say “no salt added”, “sodium-free” and “low sodium”.
- Avoid fried foods. Grill, steam, roast or hammer your food instead.
- Also, apply your new knowledge to restaurant food. Avoid ordering food with ketchup, mustard, pickles or sauces. Do not add salt. And if you have time, ask your server how the food is prepared.
- Reduce your alcohol intake to acceptable portions for DASH.
The most popular foods are full of salt. Here are how many milligrams (mg) of salt you get:
|Food Serving||Sodium Content|
|¼ teaspoon table salt||575 mg|
|½ teaspoon table salt||1,150 mg|
|1 teaspoon table salt||2,300 mg|
|1 hot dog||460 mg|
|1 regular fast-food hamburger||600 mg|
|2 ounces processed cheese||600 mg|
|1 tablespoon soy sauce||900 mg|
|1 serving frozen pizza with meat and vegetables||982 mg|
|8 ounces regular potato chips||1,192 mg|