Nutrition Therapy in Hypertension
Hypertension is persistently high arterial blood pressure, the force exerted on the walls of arteries. To be defined as hypertension, the systolic blood pressure (SBP) has to be 120 mm Hg or higher or the diastolic blood pressure (DBP) has to be 80 mm Hg or higher, this is reported as more than 120/80 mm Hg. According to the American Heart Association (AHA, 2010) one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure. Approximately 74 million American adults age 20 and older have hypertension or are taking antihypertensive medication.
Changing lifestyle factors may be beneficial in primary prevention and control of hypertension. Dietary intake of sodium should be reduced to 2400 mg per day and intake of fruits and vegetables should be increased. Include at least 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Also weight reduction is recommended in overweight or obese individuals.
One should increase the intake of certain minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium. Potassium can be obtained from fruits, vegetables and legumes. Magnesium can be obtained from whole grains, nuts and green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, mustard greens and spinach.
Both the quality and the quantity of fat plays an important role in lowering hypertension. Supplementation with fish oil can reduce the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Also MUFA rich oils such as olive oil, canola oil, rice bran oil etc. should be used.
DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) should be adopted. DASH diet is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy products. DASH diet is high in potassium, phosphorus and protein and is not advisable for individuals with end stage renal disease.