Tag Archives: DASH

Bet You Can’t Eat Just One!

To improve your blood pressure reading, eating less sodium is on top of the list.  In my previous blog I mentioned that The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, referred to as DASH, encourages you to  reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure.  Let’s look at this in more detail.

Sodium is a major component of table salt.  Our craving for salt is actually learned, and as such, can be unlearned.  If we cut back on our salt intake, the desire for salt will gradually decrease.   The American Heart Association  recommends to limit your intake to 1500 mg daily.  This can be a real challenge because food manufacturers add so much sodium to processed foods.  We need some sodium, but it is present in our foods as they are picked from the field because it is in the soil.  Most foods have some sodium even before they are processed, and that is OK, since it is enough to supply what we need but not enough to cause health problems.  It is the canned and processed foods that are the problem. If we cut out table salt, we only reduce our sodium intake by about 15%. Your best bet is to find items which state, “No Added Salt” on the label. You can also read the nutrition facts label.

The % Daily Value section on the food label tells you the percent of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium), choose foods with a lower % Daily Value of 5 percent or less. If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % Daily Value of 20 percent or more.

The typical sodium intake in our society is around 4000 – 5000mg/day.  As previously stated, the American Heart Association recommends cutting back to 1500mg to be heart healthy.  There are several steps you can take to reach that level.  Buy varieties of food with no added salt.  Rinse regular canned foods under running water to help reduce salt.  Skip items with added sauces.   Avoid food items that have been cured, smoked, processed, brined, or pickled since all have been prepared in salt.  For luncheon meats its better to cook fresh meat and slice up versus deli meats.  Cheese is high in salt so use sparingly. Be aware of products with the word sodium or salt in it such as monosodium glutamate, celery salt, onion salt, and garlic salt.  Use powders instead such as garlic powder. There are no limits on herbs and spices. There are also seasoning mixes with no salt you can try, like Mrs. Dash, which comes in various flavors.

So where is your level of sodium intake?  See if you can change your craving for salt by following the above recommendations for a month.  You may surprise yourself and suddenly decide salty chips are toooo salty and unappealing.

Signature by Joanne Slyter, registered dietitian who focuses her practice on nutrition consulting and coaching


I Don’t Know Why I have High Blood Pressure

In my previous blogs I looked at elevated HDL and triglyceride as risk factors for heart disease.  Both of these can be elevated due to eating behavior and weight, but family history can also be a detriment.  The next risk factor I want to focus on is high blood pressure.

A high blood pressure is defined as 140/90 or higher.  It is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, referred to as DASH, encourages you to  reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.   Lifestyle changes such as losing weight if your body mass index is above 25, moderate alcohol consumption which is defined as no more than 1 glass per day for women and 2 glasses per day for men,  limit saturated fats, add more fiber in your diet, manage stress,  avoid smoking,  and exercise regularly will also lower your blood pressure and can improve your overall health. With exercise, take it slow at first with just 10 to 15 minutes a day and gradually increase the time and intensity of your activity.  Choose something you enjoy and can stick with, such as walking, swimming, or bike riding, and make it a daily habit.

In my next few blogs I will look at each of these life style changes in more detail. What do you see may be affecting your blood pressure?

Signature by Joanne Slyter, registered dietitian with nutrition consulting and coaching practice located in Westminster CO