Dr Claudine Lewis Sunday, November 01, 2015
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
As health care providers, we do not like the word "diet", as it is used in the fad sense. We encourage small changes, over a longer period of time, and focus on a healthy lifestyle. We also advocate sitting with a dietician or nutritionist, to find a plan that suits the individual and steering clear of diet sheets.
The (DASH) diet, however, is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that is designed to help treat or prevent hypertension (high blood pressure). It encourages you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower the blood pressure -- such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.
By following the DASH diet, you may be able to reduce your blood pressure by a few points within just two weeks. Over time, the systolic blood pressure (top number) could drop by seven to 12 points. This can make a significant difference in your health risks. The DASH diet offers health benefits besides just lowering blood pressure. It is also in line with dietary recommendations to prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
This diet emphasises vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy foods, whole grains (moderate amounts), fish, poultry, and nuts.
Though the new nutrition guidelines have revised the recommended daily allowance for sodium intake, there is a lot of evidence suggesting that a low salt intake can help to lower blood pressure. The traditional diet will have 3,500 mg or more of sodium. The culprit is not just salt added to food, but hidden sources of salt, in processed foods, such as bread, crackers, etc.
* Standard DASH -- up to 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
* Lower sodium DASH diet -- up to 1,500 mg per day.
WHAT TO EAT?
* Whole grains: six to eight servings a day
Grains include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. Whole grain is recommended over refined grains because of higher fibre and nutrient content. For example, one serving of whole grains include one slice wholewheat bread, or one ounce dry cereal or, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or wholewheat pasta. In our setting, sweet potato and yam is also high in fibre and can be substituted.
* Vegetables: four to five servings per day
Tomatoes, carrots, greens, and other vegetables are full of fibre, vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and magnesium.
Examples of one serving of vegetables: one cup raw leafy vegetables or 1/2 cup cooked vegetables.
In Jamaica, vegetables are usually the smallest portion on the plate, we need to increase our portions and use vegetables as main, rather than side dishes. * Fruits: four to five servings per day
Try to have fruits at breakfast and throughout the day as a healthy snack. Mix fruits with vegetables for tasty and healthy salads.
* Lean meat, poultry and fish: six or less servings per day
Meat can be a rich source of protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. They are also key sources of fat and cholesterol, so do not make meat the mainstay of your diet. Cut back your typical meat portions by a third or a half, and replace with vegetables instead. Trim away fat when preparing chicken, and choose baking or grilling instead of frying or "brown stew", where the meat is fried first then stewed.
* Dairy: two to three servings per day
Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are major sources of vitamin D and calcium and protein. Choose fat-free or low-fat options, because they are also major sources of fat (including cholesterol). Consume a small amount of cheese, because of the salt content. more