Nutrition For Hypertension
Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is a condition where blood vessels and arteries get damaged due to excessive force in the blood flow. According to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), this illness remains to be the number one risk factor for many fatal complications such as stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases. Those who have this illness have a blood pressure of over 130/80 mmHg. They may need maintenance medicine to help relax the vessels and/or manage the elimination of sodium and water in the kidneys. High water retention caused by excess sodium in the body can strain the blood vessels, which is why doctors advise patients to consume as little salt as possible. Changing to a better lifestyle and diet are necessary to help lower the pressure and avoid serious complications in the future.
There are various symptoms that can point to hypertension such as sudden dizziness, unusual headaches, and red spots on the eyes. However, the only solution to being clear of hypertension is through prevention. This condition is considered to be a life-long illness. Therefore, there is no sure way yet on how to completely be cured of it. An active lifestyle and a healthy diet is an effective method to ensure blood pressure remains normal for as long as possible.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
Those who are already living with hypertension are advised to consult a nutritionist or dietician to get a more comprehensive diet plan. Controlling or lowering blood pressure has to be done on a daily basis. Therefore, one’s food intake should be monitored at all times. In fact, a plan called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) has been created to specifically help those dealing with the condition to identify what foods to take and to avoid.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the DASH diet recommends a daily intake of 2000 calories. There must be high consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and foods high in saturated fat must be limited or avoided. Sodium is a big factor in the increase of one’s blood pressure, therefore salty and processed foods must be avoided as much as possible.
Daily Serving Guide for Hypertensive Patients
The most important thing to remember when following the diet are the nutrients that must be consumed. Potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein have shown effective results in reducing the blood pressure and can also prevent other illnesses like diabetes. The table below shows the recommended daily intake for each type of food:
|Food Group||Daily Serving Size||Equivalent|
|Grains||6-8||1 slice of bread, ½ cup of cooked rice/pasta, 1 ounce of dry cereal|
|Vegetables||4-5||1 cup raw leafy greens, ½ cup of cooked vegetables|
|Fruits||4-5||1 medium fruit, 6 ounces fruit juice|
(lean meat, poultry, fish)
|5 or fewer||5 ounces cooked meat, fish, poultry|
|Fats and oils||2-3||1 tsp vegetable oil, 2 tbsp light salad dressing|
|Low-fat or fat-free dairy products||2-3||8 ounces milk, 1 cup yogurt|
|Alcohol||2/1||2 glasses of beer for men; 1 glass of beer for women|
While alcohol is known to cause further complications for people with hypertension, a study done in 2007 showed that men who only drink up to two glasses a day and one glass a day for women may not need to completely change or remove their drinking habits. The study showed that those who drink moderately tend to have a lower risk for myocardial infarction, or heart attack.
Benefits of the DASH Diet
Studies have shown that those who practice this type of meal plan have been able to significantly lower their blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, also known as the “bad cholesterol”. Potassium and magnesium have both shown to be inversely connected to one’s BP. This means that higher intake of these nutrients may help in normalizing pressure levels. These nutrients can be found in vegetables and fruits, which is why adding these to one’s diet is essential. Calcium, which can be found in low-fat and fat-free dairy products, has also shown to help in lowering the systolic BP. This is the number on top of the BP reading that measures the pressure in the arteries.
By regularly exercising and eating healthy food, one can decrease the possibility of getting this illness. It is important for individuals to start early, especially if one’s family has a history of cardiovascular diseases. At ManilaMed, patients can schedule a consultation with medical experts that specialize in the cardiovascular system. The Heart Station offers non-invasive cardiovascular diagnostic services that patients can avail of. Contact us at (02)523 8131 loc 2501 or (02) 522 1913 for more information.