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The D.A.S.H. Diet
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is very common. Approximately 1/3 of adults have high blood pressure. In this group, 1/3 - 1/2 are sensitive to the effect of salt. As you age, your chance of high blood pressure increases, as does your body's sensitivity to sodium.
The average American consumes 3-5 grams of sodium per day. Sodium is one of the constituents of salt; table salt is sodium chloride. Most of the salt in the American diet is from processed foods, the kinds that are found in canned goods, boxed foods, and jarred products. This would include such items as canned soups, canned or jarred tomato juice, dry soup mixes, potato chips and corn chips. Processed meats are also high in salt. These foods can contribute to hypertension in those sensitive to sodium.
There is a healthy eating alternative referred to as the DASH diet. This stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This eating program restricts the amount of sodium, and emphasizes fruit and vegetable intake. It also includes whole grains and low fat dairy product. The DASH diet provides menus and recipes to curb daily sodium consumption. There are DASH diets which provide 2300 and 1500 milligrams per day. 2300 milligrams of sodium is considered the highest acceptable amount by the National High Blood Pressure Program. 2300 milligrams per day is also the highest level recommended for healthy Americans by the 2005 "US Dietary Guidelines". The Institute of Medicine has suggested a daily intake of 1500 milligrams of sodium to reduce blood pressure while providing adequate sodium intake. It has been shown that the DASH diet that restricts sodium intake to 1500 milligrams per day can reduce blood pressure to a greater degree than the DASH diet that allows for 2300 milligrams of sodium per day.
It is advisable to consume 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to boost the intake of potassium, which helps to counter the action of sodium. Nonfat or low fat dairy products provide calcium, which can also counter the blood pressure elevating effect of sodium. Be sure to limit processed foods, and go easy on the saltshaker. Also, read food labels. Sodium is listed on all food labels. The US Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 2400 milligrams of sodium a day. If you have high blood pressure, try to set your limit at 1500 milligrams per day.Find out more about the DASH diet: Read more about high blood pressure: