Diet for high blood pressure- DASH Diet
Hypertension (high blood pressure or arterial hypertension) is a high blood pressure at rest, on permanent or paroxysmal basis. Normally, the blood pressure at rest is within the range of 100-140mmHg systolic (top reading) and 60-90mmHg diastolic (bottom reading). According to figures provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the maximum should not exceed 160 for systolic pressure and 90 for diastolic pressure. Diastolic blood pressure is, in principle, half of the systolic pressure plus 10.
Hypertension (HTN) occurs if the values of 140/90 mmHg are exceeded without any physical effort implied. If the increased systolic pressure by itself doesn’t necessarily mean hypertension, but a manifestation on the physical level of some intense emotional or stressful states, high diastolic pressure (over 90 mmHg) is associated with hypertensive states.
Sometimes hypertension comes with other diseases of internal organs, but most of the time, it is hard to determine the cause of the outbreak (idiopathic hypertension). If it is a symptom of other diseases, curing the disease makes the hypertensive condition disappear; for all the other situations, hypertension will accompany the patient’s entire life.
That is the reason why people with high blood pressure must change their life style, in order to avoid the risk of any complications, whether neurological, cardiac, renal or retinal.
Following a specific diet is an essential condition to avoid a negative evolution of this disease.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is highly recommended to fight against high blood pressure. Its positive effects are recognized by nutritionists from all over the world, and what makes it highly appreciated is that it has positive effects both for the hypertension condition and for general health, too. The results of DASH can be observed immediately, even after two weeks of diet, when the blood pressure decreases. In two months, significant improvements of the heart’s health can be noticed. And as a plus, it removes the excess weight.
The diet includes foods with a high content of fiber, magnesium, potassium and calcium. It is recommended to avoid foods that contain fats.
There are certain categories of foods are allowed, but in certain proportions:
– Whole grains cereals – 2 servings per day;
– Fruits – 4 servings per day;
– Vegetables – 4 servings per day;
– Skimmed or low-fat Milk – 2 servings per day;
– Lean meat, fish, or eggs – 1.5 servings per day;
– Nuts, seeds, nuts – a serving a day.
The serving size is 125 g for cereals, 100 g for fruit, 100-150 g for vegetables, 100 g of meat, 100 g for milk (or 50 g for cheese). A serving size for nuts or seeds is as much as you can hold in your hand.
The diet may include 5 portions of sweets per week (100 g each). Reducing the intake of salt to as much as a teaspoon a day (6 grams) is a must. This can be replaced with aromatic herbs, pepper, garlic and lime juice. It is prohibited to eat foods that contain glutamate sodium (E621), a food additive that replaces salt and increases appetite.
Alimente permise în dieta DASH: cereale şi produse de panificaţie (pâine integrală, pâine neagră, pâine de secară, pâine cu germeni de grâu etc., paste din făină integrală, cereale), legume, fructe (mere, piersici, caise, struguri, pepeni, banane, citrice, ananas, kiwi, prune, pere, căpşuni), produse lactate degresate, carne slabă, peşte, alune, seminţe, ulei vegetal, dulciuri (o lingură zahăr; o lingură dulceaţă). Peştele recomandat este cel oceanic (ton, macrou, sardele, somon), bogat în grăsimi benefice Omega-3, iar uleiul indicat este cel de măsline şi de seminţe de in.
Foods allowed in the DASH diet: whole grain cereals and bakery products (whole grain bread, brown bread, rye bread, bread with wheat germ, whole grain pastas, cereals), vegetables, fruits (apples, peaches, apricots, grapes, melons, bananas, citrus, pineapple, kiwi, plums, pears, strawberries), non-fat dairy products, lean meat, fish, nuts, seeds, vegetable oil, sweets (one tablespoon sugar, a teaspoon of jam). Oceanic fish is preferred (tuna, mackerel, sardines, salmon), because is rich in beneficial Omega-3 fats, and the best oil is the olive oil and flax seeds oil.
In addition to the food diet, physical condition should be improved through practicing exercises of low intensity, but on a regular basis (e.g., walking). Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine-containing products should be taken out of the dietary plan.
The water consumption should be moderate. It is not recommended to drink large amounts of water over a short period of time, because water passes fast into the blood stream increasing the arterial hypertension.
For people with high blood pressure, DASH diet should be a lifestyle, and not just a diet followed for a limited period of time. They should take combine a specific alimentary regime with a healthy lifestyle, a correct medical treatment and permanent supervision of blood pressure, diet and body weight.