One of the chief causes of hypertension is bad diet. A meal that is high in sodium and fat content is considered unhealthy. Too much intake of salt is bad to the body since it increases the person’s risk to stroke and heart diseases in the later life. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends a daily intake of sodium of less than 2, 3000 milligrams per day but for people diagnosed with hypertension, the quantity is further reduced to 1, 500 mg per day, that is under ¼ teaspoon! Research shows that individuals who only consume up to 1, 500 of sodium daily are less likely to suffer stroke or any coronary heart disease.
What is DASH Diet?
Nutrition therapy for hypertension is referred to as DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Basically, the DASH meal plan entails a recommended food serving to plan meals in which the dietary requirements are variable to the person’s caloric needs. It should be mentioned that the process of adapting the DASH diet should be slow and gradual, thus allowing the body enough time to adjust. The effectiveness of DASH diet is well-recorded in many scientific studies.
- A serving of vegetable at night and at dinner.
- A serving of fruit every meal.
- Use of low-fat (or better, fat-free) seasonings.
- Consumption of skimmed or low-fat milk.
- Limit intake of meat to 6 ounces daily (Note: 6 ounces = 36 teaspoons!).
- Avoid chips and salted foods during snack.
- Keep low intake of sodium.
Based on a 2000-calorie requirement, the following constitutes a healthy DASH diet: (Find healthy dessert recipes here)
- Vegetable: 1 cup of raw vegetables, or ½ cup of cooked vegetables
- Fruits: 1 serving of fresh fruit, or ½ cup of canned fruit, or ¼ cup of dried fruits
- Carbohydrates: 1 slice of bread, or 1 cup of cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice
- Dairy products:1 cup of yogurt, or 8 ounces of milk,
- Meat: Similar to the size of a deck of playing cards
- Nuts and beans: 2 tablespoons, or ½ cup of cooked fried beans
- Condiments: 1 tablespoon of salad dressing, or 1 teaspoon of margarine, or 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise
- Sweets: 1 tablespoon sugar
Note: Fiber, magnesium and potassium are the three most essential elements that are known to stabilize blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables that are high in these minerals include apples, bananas, broccoli, carrots, green beans, dates, grapes, kale, green peas, melon, oranges, mangoes, peaches, raisins, potatoes, pineapples, strawberries, squash and tomatoes.
Sodium restriction is an important part of the DASH diet, the following are some suggestions on how to cut down salt in the diet:
- Track the sodium content in the foods you take. Limit intake of salt to less than 1 teaspoon a day.
- Check the labels. Pass on to foods with high salt quantity.
- Avoid fry, street foods. In addition to high in saturated fats, these foods are dipped into a great amount of seasoning.
- Avoid fast-food products. Instead, make a home-made meal for lunch.
- Only eat lean meats. Trim visible fats and avoid consuming chicken’s skin. If possible, broil, boil or roast meats. These cooking methods are low in fats.