New Guide May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Government health experts offering up revised DASH diet booklet

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MONDAY, July 3, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- There are 65 million American adults with high blood pressure. If you're one of them, you can lower your blood pressure by following the step-by-step dietary and physical activity advice offered in an updated guide from the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The updated version of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan recommends limiting salt (sodium), saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. It also urges people to increase their consumption of fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk products, whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts.

It offers new information on potassium, weight loss, and physical activity, and includes a week's worth of menus, easy-to-prepare recipes and a diary to record what you eat and your exercise. There are also tips about heart-healthy food choices and ways to be more physically active.

"NHLBI studies have shown that the DASH eating plan can significantly lower high blood pressure, even within the first few weeks," Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, NHLBI director, said in a prepared statement. "They demonstrate that be making healthy choices in diet and physical activity, you can get on track to a healthier life," she said.

Here are some examples of the advice and suggestions contained in the guide:

  • If you eat only one or two servings of vegetables a day, try adding one serving at lunch and another at dinner.
  • Gradually switch to fat-free or low-fat milk and reduce your intake of soda or other sweetened beverages.
  • Choose whole grain foods, such as whole wheat bread or whole grain cereals. This will provide with added nutrients and fiber.
  • Select food items with the lowest levels of salt or sodium.
  • Start exercising by taking a 15-minute walk each day and slowly build from there.

More information

Here's where you can find the DASH guide.

SOURCE: U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, news release, June 28, 2006

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