To tackle hypertension,keep a check on diet

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.”

Written by Ishi Khosla | Published:April 13, 2013 1:18 am

The secret of good health is intelligent consumption of beneficial foods rather than simply avoiding harmful foods. With increasing prevalence of hypertension at a young age,strategies for prevention and management need to be understood and implemented. The most well-known approach for controlling high blood pressure has been reducing intake of salt (or sodium). While sodium restriction is important,management of high blood pressure involves many other nutrients and adequate intake of potassium,calcium,fibre,phytochemicals,omega 3 fats and controlling waist size.

The DASH diet,a diet for controlling high blood pressure,evolved out of multi-centre studies conducted by National Heart,Lung and Blood Institute,USA. The DASH diet,an eating plan low in fat,saturated fat,and cholesterol and rich in fruits,vegetables,low-fat dairy products along with 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 meat,sweets and sugar-rich drinks. The DASH diet provided high amounts of fibre,potassium and magnesium.

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

Heart disease covers a range of disorders which affect our arteries,blood vessels,or the heart,leading to narrowed or blocked arteries and preventing the heart from pumping blood efficiently,thereby leading to hypertension. Hypertension is high persistent blood pressure (above 140 mm Hg systolic and 90 mm Hg diastolic).

The following nutrients help fight hypertension:

POTASSIUM: Good sources of potassium include fruits and vegetables like potatoes,spinach,tomatoes,bananas,oranges and dry fruits.

CALCIUM: It is needed for contraction and relaxation of heart muscles,thereby making it an essential nutrient for fighting hypertension. Low-fat milk,yogurt,green leafy vegetables,almonds,sesame seeds and tofu are good sources of calcium.

FIBRE: High-fibre diets help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Whole cereals and pulses,dal,peas,soybean,fruits and vegetables,wheat bran,oat bran,etc. can increase fibre intake.

W-3 FATS: 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. Whole grains,pulses,dal,spinach,whole wheat bread,nuts and tofu are good sources of magnesium.

What causes high blood pressure

Food is one of the most important elements of life. Not only the amount of food we eat,but also the different food groups we eat,make a significant impact on our health. Thus,controlling diet and lifestyle changes are critical in the effective treatment of high blood pressure.

* Positive family history

* High sodium intake in the form of increased salt intake or processed foods

* Overweight and obesity

* Sedentary lifestyle

* Excessive alcohol consumption

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