Nutrition Theraphy for Hypertension
The goals of nutrition theraphy for patients with hypertension are to:
- Promote weight reduction.
- Reduce sodium intake.
- Increase potassium intake.
- Encourage health eating habits.
- Encourage increased physical activity.
Weight loss should be the primary goal for the overweight hypertensive patient. In addition to its positive effect on blood pressure, weight loss can also improve lipid levels, further reducing cardiovascular risk. A reduction of 500 kcal per day will achieve a weekly loss of one pound per week. Increasing physical activity and adhering to a low fat, low calorie diet have been shown to be effective means of weight and blood pressure control.
On average, a typical American diet contains approximately 4 to 8 grams of sodium per day. Reducing the sodium intake of hypertensive individuals to approximately 2 to 3 grams per day is recommended. Table salt and foods high in sodium, such as salted, smoked, canned and highly processed foods should be limited.
Because a high-potassium diet may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure and potassium wasting often occurs in patients taking commonly prescribed diuretics such as, hydrochlorothiazide or furosemide, these patient's diet should regularly include foods high in potassium. Examples of high-potassium foods are oranges, orange juice, potatoes (especially with the skin), and bananas. Monitoring serum potassium levels is essential when potassium-wasting diuretics are prescribed.