Dash To Lower Blood Pressure

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DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I was very interested in your column on the DASH diet. Is there a diet sheet listing all the items pertaining to this diet? How can I get one? I think it’s a doable diet. — I.P.

ANSWER: DASH, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a doable, simple and good-tasting diet. People are disappointed to find out that the diet is contained on one page with straightforward directives. The sheet lists the number of servings of a particular food group, what constitutes a serving and examples of the foods in each group. That’s all there is. You can expect a drop of 8 to 14 points in blood pressure if you’re faithful to it. One of the most important diet changes is limiting sodium (salt) consumption to 1,500 grams. Here’s the diet:

GRAINS: Six to eight servings a day; whole-grain breads like wheat, cereals (both dry and cooked), brown rice and pastas are grains. A serving is one slice of bread, one cup of dry cereal and half a cup of cooked cereal.

FRUITS: Four to six daily servings, with a serving being a moderately sized whole fruit, a half-cup of frozen or canned fruit or a half-cup of fruit juice.

VEGETABLES: Four to five servings a day, with a serving being one cup of leafy green veggie, 1/2 cup cut up, raw or cooked vegetables or 1/2 cup vegetable juice.

DAIRY: Two to three servings a day of low-fat dairy products, with a serving being a cup of skim or low-fat milk, a cup of yogurt or one and a half ounces of cheese.

LEAN MEATS, POULTRY, FISH: Six or fewer servings a day. A serving is one ounce of cooked meat, skinless chicken or fish. One egg is also a serving.

NUTS, SEEDS, DRY BEANS: Four to five servings a week. One serving is a third cup of nuts, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a half a cup of dry beans.

FATS AND OILS: Two to three servings a day, with a serving being equal to 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of margarine, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons of salad dressing.

SWEETS: Five or less a week. A serving is a tablespoon of sugar or a teaspoon of jam or jelly.

The booklet on high blood pressure explains what it is and how it’s treated. 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 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have osteoporosis. I was put on Actonel (risedronate) by my former doctor. My new doctor had me switch to Fosamax (alendronate) when it came out as a generic. This doctor says you must take vitamin D and calcium also. Are they necessary? — B.G.

ANSWER: They are necessary. They work hand in hand with osteoporosis medicines. Calcium is the mineral needed for strong bones. Vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium from the digestive tract into the blood.

Not having a supply of these two is like trying to build a sandcastle without sand.

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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