Expert Q&A: Eating to Control High Blood Pressure
An interview with Dean Ornish, MD.
Salt. If you've got high blood pressure, everyone blames salt. Does everyone need to restrict their salt intake? continued...
People who have high blood pressure would be well advised to eat less salt.
How much they need to restrict it depends on how high their blood pressure is
and how much damage is done to their kidneys.
It's not as hard as it sounds to eat less salt. Yes, at first everything you
eat seems to need salt. Then, after a week or two, everything tastes fine. And
if you happen to go out to dinner, suddenly the food tastes too salty. Your
taste preferences will change if you just stick with it for a week or two.
Which foods are the worst sodium offenders?
Table salt, of course, but sodium is found in a lot of processed foods. Most
processed foods are high in sodium, even though you may not think of them as
What changes would you make to the DASH diet?
DASH is a good diet, but it doesn't go far enough for people who are trying
to reverse heart disease.
In my new book, The Spectrum, we talk about how you really do have a
spectrum of choices. The more you need to change, the more you have to change.
It's the old "ounce of prevention, pound of cure."
The point is that we need to personalize a way of eating and living that is
right for us based upon our needs, our genes, and our preferences. If you just
want to lose a few pounds or get your blood pressure, or cholesterol, or blood
sugar down, you can start by making just a few changes.
DASH is a good place to begin. If that is not enough to bring your blood
pressure down, now you have a choice: You can go on drugs for the rest of your
life, or you can make even bigger lifestyle changes.
Not everybody needs to make big changes. And it is not just diet.
There is also a spectrum of exercise and a spectrum of stress management.