Dash To Lower Blood Pressure

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DEAR DR. DONOHUE: You’ve written about the DASH diet in the past. The directions for it are quite general. Can you provide an itemized list of what is good and what is bad to eat? It makes things simpler for me. — F.L.

ANSWER: The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) doesn’t involve a detailed listing of good and bad foods. It’s a general approach that identifies the food groups that are best for lowering blood pressure. You get to pick foods from those groups that appeal to you. That’s one of the beauties of the diet: It permits many choices.

Grains are one of the major groups in the diet. Grains include products made from wheat, barley, rye, oats and other such cereal grains, even grains that aren’t familiar to our diet. Every day, people should eat seven to eight servings of grain foods. A serving is a slice of bread, 1 ounce of cereal, or half a cup of cooked rice (brown), pasta or cereal.

The next group is three to four servings of fruit, with a serving being equal to a medium-size fruit, a quarter-cup of dried fruit or 6 ounces of fruit juice. People also should eat four or five servings of vegetables a day, with a serving being 1 cup leafy vegetables, half a cup cooked vegetables or 6 ounces of vegetable juice.

Two to three low-fat dairy products are allowed, with 8 ounces of skim milk, 1 cup low-fat yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces of low-fat cheese constituting a serving. Two meat servings a day are permitted, with 3 ounces being a serving of cooked meat, poultry or fish.

Fats and oils are the final group. Two or three servings meet the requirement, with 1 teaspoon of margarine, 2 tablespoons of low-fat mayonnaise or 2 tablespoons of light salad dressing each being a serving. In addition, 1 1/2 ounces of nuts are allowed four times a week.

In addition, you must keep sodium down to 1,500 mg a day. Sodium is listed on all nutrition labels.

The booklet on high blood pressure speaks of the many other issues involved in controlling this widespread disorder. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 104W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Six months ago my husband, 78, had an artificial hip installed — if that’s the right word. The operation was a complete success, and he was up and walking shortly after the surgery.

However, since he’s been home, he does nothing but sit. He says he’s afraid he’ll wear out the new hip. I thought that the operation was done to make people more active. Isn’t that so? — O.P.

ANSWER: It is so. Mobility and freedom from pain are the reasons why artificial hips have gained such high regard. Your husband isn’t going to wear out the hip. The new joint lasts up to 25 or more years. He can do anything that his doctor has not specifically said not to do.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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