Hypertension, Stroke, Heart Disease are common throughout the United States of America and indeed large parts of the Western World. Epidemiologists attribute much of this down to the Western diet.
Sad to say, after years of much research, Scientists have reached the conclusion that the typical Western Diet (USA & UK especially) is a recipe for a disaster waiting to happen as far as Hypertension and other associate Cardiovascular issues are concerned. Too much Salt, too much of the wrong types of fat (saturated not unsaturated), too many calories, not enough fruit and vegetables, too much alcohol and tobacco; basically, whether we like it or not, living life to the full too much.
Depressing or what?
However amidst all of this “doom and gloom” lies the fact that the good news hidden away in all of this is that in fact as far as the above potential problems are concerned, we can in fact do an awful lot about it. Our fate can actually lie in our own hands. You can take an active role in preventing and controlling high blood pressure by watching what you consume.
What can best be described as the watershed approach to the understanding of all of this came about in 1997 with the publication and results of the first Dietary Approaches to stop Hypertension study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Amongst a great many of the findings published in this study came the first real confirmation that we can actually positively influence our diet and through this help to control our Blood Pressure.
The DASH Diet
The results of this study were in fact so positive that the JNC (Joint National Committee on Health) guidelines now recommend most Americans (and others interested) follow the dietary guidelines of what has now become known as the DASH Diet – the key recommendation here is that all people not just those suffering from Hypertension should follow these dietary principles.
The diet proposes a regime that is low in Fat, and rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Apparently the results of this plan were so impressive that those who were part of the initial study group quickly experienced a significant lowering in the levels of their Blood Pressure.
The initial volunteers on this study group were chosen from a random population of people suffering from Hypertension ad were randomly assigned three various dietary programmes to follow. The first was based on the conventional American diet that was 37% of the calories provided from fatty products. The second group was allocated a programme largely the same but with the additional benefits of added fruit and vegetables. The third group was allocated to the programme that later become known as the DASH Diet. This was 27% of the calories from fat, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low fat or non fat dairy products and finally small amounts of meat, fish, poultry and nuts.
No prizes for guessing which group came out on top with the DASH participants experiencing an average reduction of up to 11.4 mm Hg in Systolic Pressure and a 5.5 mm Hg drop in Diastolic Pressure levels.
These results were actually favourably comparable to results obtained form similar trials but using Medication and Drugs. Not bad eh?
So the jury is back in, you are what you eat and if you decide and plan carefully what you eat you can do yourself some benefit!