More than 50 million Americans currently have hypertension. According to new guidelines issued in May 2003 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), another 45 million Americans now have prehypertension.
Recent research has proven that 90% of all Americans are destined to develop hypertension at some point in their lifetimes.1, 2 A recent large meta-analysis found that the risk of developing cardiovascular disease doubles every time the diastolic blood pressure (the low number) increases by 10 mmHg and/or the systolic blood pressure (the high number) increases by 20 mmHg. This increased risk starts at or below 115/75 mmHg.3
It is now apparent that the rise in blood pressure seen in nearly all Americans as they reach middle and old age is unhealthful. Many people with blood pressure levels within what had been considered “normal” and everyone with what had been termed “high-normal” blood pressure are at a considerably increased risk for developing cardiovascular diseases, dementia and kidney failure.
These new NHLBI guidelines should encourage more physicians to refer patients for medical nutritional therapy. In nearly all cases, a more healthful diet can lower blood pressure from the prehypertensive range to a far safer level. There is every reason to believe that most people with prehypertension who adopt a low-sodium, DASH-style diet can return their blood pressure to the optimal range and probably keep it there for the rest of their lives. By contrast, the aggressive use of drugs to lower blood pressure down to the optimal range (<110/70 mmHg) often comes with unpleasant and potentially serious adverse side effects.
By James J. Kenney, PhD, RD.
1. Salt Toxicity CPE?Course www.foodandhealth.com/
2. JAMA 2002;287:1003-1010
3. Lancet 2002;360:1908
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.