Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Diet holds keys to reducing blood pressure

I was doing what any self-respecting dietitian does with friends at the beach . . . reading the label on the bag of corn chips. I was surprised that this particular brand was lower in sodium than other snack foods I've seen.

"I've tried to follow a low sodium diet to lower my blood pressure," my friend said. "It's tough."

And having high blood pressure is tougher. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the cause of more than 60 percent of strokes and almost half of all heart-related medical problems in the world, according to Dr. Lawrence Appel, who investigates dietary treatments to prevent and treat high blood pressure.

"Multiple dietary factors affect blood pressure," he says. "And we have every reason to believe that lower blood pressure is better."

Who benefits from these strategies? We all do, Appel says. Young people, old people. People with high blood pressure. People with normal blood pressure. And interestingly, African-Americans seem especially sensitive to the blood pressure lowering effects of reduced salt intake, increased potassium intake and the DASH diet.

So back to our picnic. Sandwiches made with whole grain bread (check), tuna (right-o), sliced tomatoes and fresh spinach (good job). Our drinks were unsweetened and I swear we just had a couple of mint cookies . . . and a few munches of corn chips. Maybe it's not as tough as we thought.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator.

Here are the most current recommendations:

1. Lose weight.

Weight loss — even a modest weight loss of 10 pounds or so — lowers blood pressure, according to results from several clinical trials.

2. Cut the sodium.

Easier said than done, considering that 77 percent of the sodium chloride (salt) we eat comes from processed convenience foods. We need to eat fewer of these foods to stay within the recommended 1500 milligrams of sodium a day for good blood pressure control.

3. Eat more potassium.

More than 30 clinical trials have shown lower blood pressures in people who eat more potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. (Note: People with kidney disease may need to restrict potassium in their diets.)

4. Follow the DASH diet.

"Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension." This diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables (high in potassium) and low-fat dairy foods (calcium may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure, too). It also includes whole grains, nuts, poultry and fish and goes easy on fat, red meat and sugar. Several randomized controlled feeding trials found that this eating strategy significantly lowered blood pressure in as little as two weeks.

5. Cut back on alcohol.

Blood pressure is "dose-dependent" on alcohol intake . . . the more you drink, the higher your blood pressure. Cutting out alcohol or reducing intake to less than two drinks a day (men) or one drink a day (women) is an effective way to lower blood pressure, experts say. Remember that one drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.

6. Eat fewer carbs.

Recent studies looking to improve the DASH eating style have found that a little more protein or monounsaturated fat and a little less sugar and starch helped lower blood pressure even more than the traditional DASH diet.

7. Be more active.

Exercise combined with the DASH eating pattern can result in weight loss, a triple bonus strategy to reduce blood pressure.

Diet holds keys to reducing blood pressure 11/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 8:43am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101