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Tackling hypertension begins with regulating diet

Most well-known approach to control high blood pressure is restricting intake of salt or sodium.

Written by Ishi Khosla |
May 19, 2012 2:28:02 am

A rising number of youngsters are suffering from hypertension. Thus,it has become very important for people to start taking precautions.

The most well-known approach to control high blood pressure has been restricting intake of salt or sodium. While this is important,keeping high blood pressure in check involves many more nutrients and adequate intake of potassium,calcium,fibre,phytochemicals,omega 3 fatty acids and controlling waist size. The DASH diet,which helps control high blood pressure,evolved from multi-centre studies conducted by National Heart,Lung and Blood Institute,USA. The DASH diet,an eating plan low on fats,saturated fats,cholesterol and rich in fruits,vegetables,low fat dairy products,sodium restriction was more effective in lowering blood pressure than low-sodium diets.

A large clinical study tested the effect of DASH diet on patients with elevated blood pressure. Participants ate a diet rich in fruits,vegetables,and low-fat dairy products. They avoided red meats,sweets,and sugar rich drinks. The DASH diet provided high amounts of fibre,potassium and magnesium.

In a second study,participants decreased consumption of sodium and salt. Some participants followed the DASH diet,while the rest ate a typical American diet. Results showed that lowered sodium intake led to reduced blood pressure levels in both groups but the group which followed DASH diet had the most significant results.

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Heart disease covers a range of disorders which affect our arteries,blood vessels,or the heart,leading to narrowed or blocked arteries,which prevent the heart from pumping blood efficiently,thereby leading to hypertension.

Hypertension is persistent blood pressure above normal i.e. 140 mm Hg systolic and 90 mm Hg diastolic.

Our health is affected not only by the amount of food we eat,but also the different food groups we eat. Thus,controlling diet and lifestyle changes are critical in the effective treatment of hypertension.

Nutrients which help fight hypertension

Potassium: Potassium-rich foods can help lower blood pressure. Good sources of potassium are potatoes,spinach,tomatoes,bananas,oranges and dry fruits

Calcium: Calcium is needed for contraction and relaxation of heart muscles,which makes it an essential nutrient to fight hypertension. Low fat milk,yogurt,green leafy vegetables,almonds,sesame seeds and tofu are good sources of calcium.

Fibre: High fibre intake helps to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Whole cereals and pulses,dal,peas,soybean,wheat bran,oat bran etc. are good sources of fibre.

W-3 fats: Oils rich in PUFAs have been acknowledged to have great health benefits,these include W-3 fatty acids. Good sources of W-3 fats include fatty fish,mustard oil,walnuts,wheat,rajma,lobia,flax seeds,methi seeds,and soybean.

Magnesium: Magnesium deficiency leads to low levels of calcium and potassium in the blood as well as changes in the heart and circulatory system,thus making it an important part of diet for those suffering from hypertension. Whole grains,pulses,dals,spinach,whole wheat bread,nuts and tofu are good sources of magnesium.

Ishi Khosla is a former senior nutritionist at Escorts. She heads the Centre of Dietary Counselling and also runs a health food store. She feels that for complete well-being,one should integrate physical,mental and spiritual health. According to her: “To be healthy should be the ultimate goal for all.”

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