By Florencia Tagliavini, the NutraMilk Nutritionist.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a serious medical condition that happens when the force of blood pumping through your arteries is too strong. This over a long period can damage blood vessels, strain your heart and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, and death.
You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. This is why it has been called a silent threat. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected, so it is important to have regular check-ups. Currently, 1 in 3 adults in the United States is affected with hypertension.
How can you prevent hypertension?
There are several risk factors that increase the possibility of getting high blood pressure such as obesity, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, family history, and other lifestyle behaviors. These risk factors need to be addressed first. People who have high blood pressure or are at risk for this condition should consult with a doctor and follow a heart-healthy diet. But everyone can benefit from eating a heart-healthy diet which promotes healthy aging and overall well-being.
To help prevent and control high blood pressure:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet.
- Be physically active.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Manage and cope with stress.
- Take necessary medication.
Other lifestyle changes can improve your overall health, such as:
- If you smoke, quit.
- Get plenty of sleep.
What is a heart-healthy diet?
The DASH diet is one of the most recognized diets or protocols to reduce or prevent hypertension and heart disease but can also help reduce the risk of some cancers, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It's an eating plan that is high in fiber, low in saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars. It focuses on whole foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
The DASH diet is not a strict diet but rather a healthy eating plan that emphasizes eating whole nutritious foods and limiting processed, refined foods and certain nutrients that are not beneficial for our bodies.
Here is an example of what a balanced DASH eating plant approximately includes per day based on a 2000 Kcal diet.
- 4 to 5 servings of vegetables
- 4 to 5 servings of fruits
- 7-8 servings of grains - such as whole-wheat bread &; pasta, oatmeal, brown rice
- 2 to 3 servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy products
- 4 to 5 servings per week of nuts, seeds and legumes
- 2 or fewer servings per day of lean meat, poultry and fish
- 2 to 3 servings per day of fats and oils - avoiding trans fat and minimize saturated fat intake
- 5 or fewer servings per week of sweets - for example, choose fat-free or low-fat options of sorbets, hard candy or cookies
Eating a heart-healthy diet such as the DASH diet, along with certain lifestyle changes can help prevent hypertension and improve all-around health.