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Posts Tagged ‘DASH diet’

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Did you know your blood pressure reading is affected by many factors, including how you are sitting?  When you have your blood pressure checked, be sure to follow the list below to ensure an accurate reading:

  • Empty your bladder before taking your blood pressure.
  • Avoid caffeine, exercise and smoking for at least 30 minutes before taking a reading.
  • Sit in a back-supported chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Don’t cross your legs.
  • Put your arm on a table, desk or some other support, so your arm is supported at heart level.
  • Relax for at least five minutes before your blood pressure is taken.
  • Don’t have a conversation while it is being taken.
  • Use the correct size cuff.
  • Place the cuff on your bare arm.Picture3

Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure, according to the new guidelines (listed in the chart below) from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Normal blood pressure 120/80 mmHg or below
Elevated blood pressure 120-129/<80 mmHg
High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 1 130-139/80-89 mmHg
High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 2 140 or higher/90 or higher mmHg

People with stage 1 hypertension are at double the risk for a heart attack or a stroke when compared to those with normal blood pressure. This does not mean all of those with stage 1 hypertension need to take blood pressure drugs, though.  It is important to talk with your health care provider as to what may work best for you.  Some life style changes can make a difference in your blood pressure readings.

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Following the DASH diet can help lower blood pressure.  The DASH diet was rated by US News and World Reports as the best diet overall for the eighth year.  Other steps to take which may reduce your blood pressure:

  • Lose weight if you need to. Losing 10 pounds often improves blood pressure.
  • Lower your sodium intake.
  • Increase your physical activity. Aim for 90-150 minutes per week of either aerobic activity or resistance training or a combination of both.
  • Use stress coping techniques to reduce your stress levels.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Stop using tobacco.
  • Increase your consumption of potassium containing foods, such as potatoes, banana, almonds, peanuts, avocados, broccoli, carrots, oranges and other citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, and milk.
  • Take any blood pressure medications that you are prescribed.

Keeping your blood pressure at the normal level or below reduces your risk of heart disease or stroke.  Since 80% of strokes are preventable, keeping your blood pressure at normal levels or below is very important.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

References

American Heart Association. (2018). Understanding Blood Pressure Readings, American Heart Association.  Available at www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/KnowYourNumbers/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp#.WqBVUSVG3cs

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Preventing Stroke Deaths, CDC Vital Signs.  Available at www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2017-09-vitalsigns.pdf

Dow, C. (2018). Pressure Points, More people have hypertension, say new guidelines, Nutrition Action Healthletter, January/February 2018.  45(1) 7-8.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2018). DASH Eating Plan, National Institutes of Health.  Available at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan

 

 

 

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Are you eating wheat products?  Lately, the news has included many stories on how wheat is bad for you causing abdominal fat, triggering diseasewheat and breads, and being linked with Alzheimer’s, headaches, depression and others.

If all that is true why is wheat recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, by nutrition experts and American Heart Association?   Isn’t it a part of the Mediterranean Diet which is highly recommended by nutrition professionals.

Does wheat contribute to abdominal fat or belly fat?  High consumption of refined grains has been associated with greater belly fat in studies.  However, lower belly fat has been associated with the consumption of eating whole grains including whole wheat.  Thus, whole grains including whole wheat do not seem to be the problem.  The problem is our consumption of refined grains.  Cutting out processed foods made with refined wheat (wheat flour, white flour, enriched wheat flour, all-purpose flour) and loaded with sugar and saturated fat will help us all avoid or limit the “wheat belly.”   Limit your consumption of cookies, cakes, pastries, crackers, and white bread.

So what about the other charges on mental effects?  Research has shown that both the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet lower the risk of dementia.  Both diets include consumption of whole grains including whole wheat.  Following those diets showed better cognitive ability in adults ages 65 and up over a period of 11 years.  It is true higher glucose levels from too many carbohydrates is a risk factor for dementia, but cutting out all carbohydrates is not the answer either.  Our brain needs glucose (Carbohydrates break down to glucose in our body.) for energy as it does not store glucose.  Thus, diets low in carbohydrates can hurt our thinking and memory.

Again, it is important to eat whole grains.  Whole grains including whole wheat can provide the glucose needed for our brain.   Whole grains including whole wheat breaks down more slowly than simple carbohydrates like refined grains and sugar.

Whole grains also provide fiber.   Consuming the recommended amount of dietary fiber without whole grains would be very difficult.  Gluten-free diets usually only contain six gram of dietary fiber a day, a lot less than the 25-38 grams recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

Do cwhole-grain-stamphoose a variety of whole grains but including whole wheat, unless you need a gluten-free diet.  When shopping be sure to choose products made with “whole wheat” or “whole-grain wheat.”  You can also look for the 100% Stamp from the Whole Grains Council on foods made with all whole grains.

Note:  If your doctor recommends you follow a gluten-free diet, please continue to follow your doctor’s advice.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Ohio State University Extension, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewed by:   Liz Smith, M.S, RDN., L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Tufts University, [2014].  The truth about the war on wheat, Tufts University Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Health & Nutrition Letter, March 2014 Special Supplement, p. 1-4.

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