“While hypertension can result from various lifestyle and other risk factors, a change in eating habits may allow people to reduce or control high blood pressure,” said Sharon Alger-Mayer, M.D., of Albany Medical Center’s Clinical Nutrition Group.
Dr. Alger-Mayer said that diets high in sodium and saturated fat and low in calcium, magnesium and potassium can exacerbate hypertension.
She recommends three primary ways to help control blood pressure through diet:
• Consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (8-10 half-cup servings daily). Fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium, which helps improve blood pressure.
• Avoid excess amounts of high-sodium foods such as canned soups, canned vegetables, processed meats, and snack foods such as salty chips, etc. Sodium can cause the body to hold onto excess fluid and increase blood pressure. If using canned vegetables, drain the vegetables and rinse thoroughly with cold water to reduce sodium content.
• Follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet. This diet, based on research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, calls for avoiding saturated and total fat and cholesterol as much as possible, while cutting down on sweets, sugary beverages and red meat. It has been shown to help reduce blood pressure through healthy eating.
“A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans and seeds or nuts can make a marked difference in lowering blood pressure,” Dr. Alger-Mayer said. “It is a high-fiber, low- to moderate-fat diet rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium.”
Dr. Alger-Mayer said it is important to achieve and maintain healthy body weight to reduce stress on the heart, and to participate in regular physical activity, which helps reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
The Albany Med Faculty Physicians group is carrying out a practice-wide initiative to combat high blood pressure in the hundreds of thousands of patients seen by its more than 400 physicians across every specialty. Their efforts, which involve close coordination between specialists and patients’ primary care physicians, have helped thousands of patients control their blood pressure and reduce the risk of serious illness.
Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 734-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with more than 400 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.
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