A study by Harvard University researchers found that a low-salt version of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet dramatically lowered high blood pressure in 412 adults in just four weeks. Blood pressure was reduced by 7.1 points in healthy study participants and 11.5 points in those suffering from hypertension.
High blood pressure affects 108 million adult Americans, but one in five do not know they have it. That is because hypertension, also called “The Silent Killer” usually has no symptoms. It only surfaces when a catastrophic event occurs. About seven out of 10 people who have their first heart attack suffer from hypertension, and a full eight out of 10 first stroke victims have elevated blood pressure, too. By then it may be too late to deal with the condition.
Deaths attributed to high blood pressure increased a shocking 11% in 2020, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s more than the increase in mortality rates from pneumonia and flu, coronary heart disease and stroke, according to The New York Times.
“Untreated high blood pressure can also cause damage to your organs—not just blood vessels,” Dr. Kevin Campbell, M.D. a North Carolina-based cardiologist tells Newsmax. “Over time, HBP can damage your kidneys and cause kidney failure. In addition, long standing high blood pressure can damage the heart muscle causing it to become thickened and also weakening it, a condition called cardiomyopathy. Uncontrolled HBP can also result in congestive heart failure.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 360,000 American deaths annually include high blood pressure as a primary or contributing factor—that’s almost 1,000 deaths each day.
The Harvard study confirms that people who follow the DASH-Sodium diet can take control of their blood pressure, according to WebMD. The DASH-Sodium diet calls for cutting back sodium to 1,500 milligrams daily which is about two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt.
“The Dash diet was developed in the 1990’s by the U.S. National Institutes of Health,” says Dr. Gabe Mirkin, author of The Healthy Heart Miracle. “It is plant-focused, with lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and heart-healthy fats with limited amounts of dairy and lean meats.”
In addition to cutting back to the recommended amount of sodium, Mirkin recommends following this daily diet to reduce high blood pressure:
- Up to eight servings of whole grains, not products made from flour.
- At least five servings each of fruits and vegetables.
- Two servings of seafood weekly. Mirkin recommends avoiding meat from mammals.
- Unlimited beans or legumes.
- A handful of unsalted seeds or nuts
- Up to three servings of yogurt or cheese (optional)
- A few teaspoons of olive oil (optional)
Mirkin says that a DASH serving is about one cup of fruits and vegetables, and one-half cup for all other food products. In addition to following this diet, the expert recommends daily exercise, avoiding smoking and alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight to control or reduce hypertension.
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