Why Be Concerned about a healthy diet?
Of course you know that a diet that depends on eating food that is either delivered by the pizza guy or by the drive through attendant is not going to help you lose weight or get your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. But other food choice can help reduce both high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It is all about the choices you make.
Some years ago a study was undertaken to determine what effect different diets had on reducing blood pressure numbers. This study is known as “DASH” (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The results of this test showed that volunteers who faithfully followed the DASH dietary requirements enjoyed markedly lower blood pressure in a just a matter of weeks.
One of the dietary regimes studied focused on restricting sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams daily, which is roughly 2/3 teaspoon of normal table salt. Those who followed this program showed even more dramatic lowering of blood pressure readings.
The government recommendations for daily sodium intake as defined by both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture is not more than 2,300 milligrams daily but the research resulting from the DASH study indicate that individuals who are middle aged or older, anyone with hypertension, and African-Americans should keep their intake to the 1,500 milligram level.
To achieve this, and other health benefits of a healthy diet, the DASH diet is much richer in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and other food choices that provide key nutrients like potassium, calcium, dietary fiber, protein, and magnesium. Based on a daily calorie allowance of 2,000 here are the daily DASH recommendations (number of servings are per day unless noted otherwise):
* Grains: 7-8 servings
* Vegetables: 4-5 servings
* Fruits: 4-5 servings
* Dairy products: 2-3 servings (low-fat or fat-free)
* Meat (lean), poultry, fish: Not more than 2 servings
* Nuts, seeds, legumes: 4-5 servings per week
* Fats, oils: -3 servings
* Sweets: fewer than 5 servings a week
While the DASH diet is certainly much different from what most of us normally eat, it has proven to be a very effective blood pressure diet Of course, if you are suffering from either high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you should speak with your doctor or health care provider about this, and other options that may be open to you.
But even if you do not suffer from high cholesterol or blood pressure it is still a good idea to be sure you are receiving all the nutrients required by your body for proper operation by creating and sticking with a healthy diet.