If you have high blood pressure and diabetes, you are not alone. It's estimated that two of every three people with diabetes have high blood pressure. The American Diabetes Association and the National Institutes of Health recommend keeping your blood pressure below 130/80 mmHg.
Controlling blood pressure will help you stave off heart disease, strokes, diabetic nephropathy, and other chronic complications of diabetes.
Beyond the Salt
It is well known that eating less sodium can help lower blood pressure; however, not enough people know that there's more to the story than just lowering sodium intake. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), or DASH study, found that an overall low-fat diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products could lower blood pressure, even without a reduction in sodium intake. The reason for this is that the potassium, magnesium, and calcium contained in these foods helps lower blood pressure naturally.
In fact, the original DASH study was repeated, this time with the participants also reducing their sodium intake, and it showed that the lower the sodium intake, the lower the blood pressure.
The DASH Diet
The DASH diet is not new but it got some recent media headlines when the U.S. News & World Report named it the best overall diet. In addition to lowering your blood pressure, DASH may also help you lose weight. And the DASH diet might be enough to help you avoid or even decrease the need for high-blood-pressure medications. Exercise and weight loss are also big players in reducing the need for this medication.
As I said above, the DASH diet emphasizes lots of fruits and vegetables, low-fat diary, whole grains, and lean protein. Here are some of the DASH recommendations:
Eat 4-5 servings of vegetables each day.
Aim for 4-5 servings of fruit each day. (Yes, that's in addition to the 4–5 servings of vegetables!)
Try for 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products such a milk, cheese, or yogurt.
Keep meat intake to 6 ounces or less per day.
Try to limit your sodium intake to 1,500 mg/day. Read food labels to learn the sodium content of the foods you eat. Especially high in sodium are packaged frozen foods, processed meats like luncheon meats, soy sauce, soups, prepared pasta and rice mixes, and snack foods.
Read more on the DASH diet and make steps to lower your blood pressure today!