Diet and high blood pressure

 It’s hard to know where to begin with one’s diet when starting on a plan to lose weight, reduce high blood pressure (hypertension), etc.  The typical American diet is, frankly, lousy – too much fat, too many processed foods, excess red meats, inadequate fruits/vegetables. 

The medical community has established a Dietary Advice to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet as a general set of guidelines, obviously aimed at hypertension, but certainly an improvement on typical American diets to achieve any goal.  I do not particularly agree with the distribution of calories as outlined in the DASH diet, but it’s a good start and it certainly depends on your ultimate goal.  I’ll elaborate more on my ideal nutrition goals in further posts.

DASH Diet Meal Plan

Nutrient goals:

  • daily nutrient goals (for a 2,100 kilocalorie diet)
    • total fat 27% of kilocalories
    • saturated fat 6% of kilocalories
    • protein 18% of kilocalories
    • carbohydrate 55% of kilocalories
    • dietary fiber 30 g
    • dietary cholesterol 150 mg
    • sodium 1,500-2,300 mg
    • potassium 4,700 mg
    • calcium 1,250 mg
    • magnesium 500 mg
  • Reference – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH PDF)

Sample eating plan:

  • DASH eating plan for 2,000 kilocalorie/day diet
    • 6-8 servings/day of grains; whole grains recommended for most grain servings (1 serving = 1 slice bread; 1 ounce dry cereal; 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal)
    • 4-5 servings/day of vegetables (1 serving = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables, 1/2 cup vegetable juice)
    • 4-5 servings/day of fruits (1 serving = 1 medium piece of fruit; 1/4 cup dried fruit; 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit; 1/2 cup fruit juice)
    • 2-3 servings/day of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products (1 serving = 1 cup milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 ounces cheese)
    • 6 servings or less/day of lean meats, poultry, fish or eggs (1 serving = 1 ounce cooked meats, poultry or fish; 1 whole egg)
    • 4-5 servings/week of nuts, seeds and legumes (1 serving = 1/3 cup or 1 1/2 ounces nuts; 2 tablespoons peanut butter; 2 Tablespoons or 1/2 ounce seeds; 1/2 cup cooked legumes [dry beans and peas])
    • 2-3 servings/day of fats and oils (1 serving = 1 teaspoon soft margarine, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons salad dressing
    • 5 servings or less/week of sweets and added sugars (1 serving = 1 tablespoon sugar, jelly or jam; 1/2 cup sorbet, gelatin; 1 cup lemonade
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