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Does Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?

Anxiety has a complicated relationship with high blood pressure. While  it may be not as dire as some people think, it does indicate a need to ensure that your mental health is taken care of.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a serious problem. It dramatically increases your risk for heart attack, heart failure aneurisms, and more. Managing hypertension is extremely important for anyone that notices they have high blood pressure, especially if that pressure is high enough to require constant medical attention.
Doctors recommend several changes that people should make in order to control their blood pressure. Dietary changes and food choices are of course a priority, as is exercise (if possible). But one thing you may also want to manage is your anxiety.

Continue reading “Does Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?” »

The DASH Diet And Diabetes

By Stacy Ostrager, Nutritionist, M.A., M.S.

It has been well established that following a healthy diet is critical to stopping or reversing progression of diabetes.  There are many studies on which diet is most beneficial for diabetic patients, and there are many diets, so choosing a plan that will keep your blood glucose in check can be confusing.

The Dash Diet And Diabetes

The Dash Diet And Diabetes

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet has been touted by most doctors as the optimal choice for patients who are trying to lower their blood pressure and control glucose levels. Scientific clinically proven evidence has found that following the DASH diet has one of the highest success rates in addressing these medical concerns and reducing patients’ weight. 

  • DASH offers a structured eating program that will prevent and help manage  diabetes and heart disease.
  • The DASH diet guidelines encourages a reduction in the amount of sodium in your diet and to eat a variety of nutrient rich foods.  This plan will aide you in   making choices which will reduce blood glucose levels. 
  • The diet is low in calories, high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains.      and promotes increased number of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products     which have been associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. 
  •  This is NOT a pre-packaged, fad diet, with expensive ingredients and recipes  that are difficult to follow. 

How Can the DASH Diet Help Me Control My Diabetes?

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes may be viewed as a wake-up call to change your lifestyle.  In most instances both diabetic and hypertensive patients are eating a high sodium, high fat diet, and consuming too many calories. The association of excess weight and high blood pressure puts them in a higher risk category for additional medical complications:

  • Hypertensive patients are predisposed to the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.
  • People with diabetes are likely to have a higher incidence of stroke and heart disease. 

You CAN reverse or alleviate these complications by choosing to change your lifestyle with the DASH program.

  • One of the key features of following the DASH diet is that your blood pressure and weight will decrease.  You can avert negative health consequences by choosing the low cholesterol and reduced sodium foods that are on the DASH plan.
  •  Foods included on the DASH diet are full of nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and protein which help with insulin resistance. Remember, lowering your glucose levels is a critical component in the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • The diet in combination with an exercise program proves more beneficial for patients’ weight and fasting insulin levels.  Patients achieved improvements in glucose metabolism while on the DASH diet plan.
  • The DASH diet may lower homocysteine levels and help reduce inflammation. Diet and exercise reduce stress and inflammation as well. Both are important elements to control the complication by damaging blood vessels for diabetics.  

If you are ready to make the DASH work for you, you can take these steps to prepare yourself and get your kitchen ready:

  1. Keep track of what you are currently eating,  and then you will be able to replace your preferences with healthier options.
  2. Make a shopping list and try not to buy anything else. Focus on the DASH guidelines and meeting your goals.  A good place to start is by looking at the nutrition labels of the foods going into your cart.  Try to find items with less sodium and fat.  Look for “sodium-free” items.
  3. Shop the perimeter of the store and look for a variety of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Aim for organic, whole-grains and lean meats, wild fish, and skinless chicken.
  4. Change the way you prepare foods at home.  Try not to add salt when you are cooking and experiment with spices and other flavors.  Rinse canned foods to wash away extra salt.  Modify your recipes and don’t be afraid to try new foods.

 Your Good Health is Worth Making the DASH:

Following the DASH diet requires some effort but over time this lifestyle will likely reduce health risks associated with diabetes.  Your efforts to stay on track will be worthwhile. Imagine throwing out your medications and not having to check your sugars. You can reduce stress, expenses, and avoid major medical problems with this lifestyle.  The DASH dietary pattern is a comprehensive plan that may be used as a non-pharmacologic intervention for blood pressure control and insulin action. The DASH diet offers protection against the development of type 2 diabetes.

Stacy R. Ostrager has over 15 years experience in the health care field. She has worked in leading teaching hospitals and co-authored numerous consulting projects for doctors and private medical groups. She is currently working in private practice. Stacy has a Masters degree in Health Administration as well as a Masters in Nutrition.

Q&A: DASH diet and High Blood Pressure

Have a Question?

I receive e-mails from people starting the DASH diet every single day. People wonder what not to eat, what to eat, and how much. They try to match their favourite foods to the DASH diet requirements. They try to make sense of servings and portions.

Ask away!  I am arranging a group of experts, dietitians and nutritionists, to answer your questions.

There is only one rule:

First, state your question, then write an explanation or supporting information. This way, it is easier for other people to find out right away what is the question.

You will not be able to see your question published right away. I moderate comments due to high amount of spam. But I will publish your question right after finding an answer for it and let all subscribers know that new questions were answered. So if you did not subscribe to the site news yet, just go to the 1200 calorie DASH diet meal plan page, leave your email, get a meal plan, and never miss important news that help you lower blood pressure.

…Actually, here is rule #2: I do not accept links in your signature or questions.

So, just write a comment on this page, and get your answer. Don’t be shy; if you have a question, other people might have it too. They will be grateful you’ve asked.

Sodium and hypertension: new theory about salt and high blood pressure

A low salt diet for hypertension has been proven effective to control episodes of high blood pressure. Clinical and epidemiological investigations have shown a positive relationship between sodium and hypertension.  Researchers couldn’t explain the exact mechanism on how sodium and hypertension correlate with one another,  but clinical evidence and some experimental studies show that reduction in salt intake causes lower incidences of high blood pressure.

A recent research study conducted at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Kent State University suggested that high salt intake affects blood pressure because it affects body temperature regulation by the cardiovascular system. This dual function of the cardiovascular system is very important, and it is possible that body temperature regulation takes priority.

The researchers’ findings suggest that high salt intake causes a significant rise in blood pressure, which directly affects the cardiovascular system in trying to maintain both normal blood pressure and body temperature. This is supported by some studies conducted previously which suggest that a high salt diet increases left ventricular mass. This  further implies that an increase in sodium increases blood pressure, causing the heart to work harder to push enough blood to important organs and peripheral body parts.

Are you a salt sensitive or salt resistant individual?

It is very important to know and understand what this means for you to be able to minimize your risk and at least eliminate one of the risk factors of  hypertension, which is a high salt diet.

According to Robert Blankfield, a clinical professor of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a member of the Department of Family Medicine at University Hospital’s Case Medical Center, salt sensitive individuals maintain core body temperature equilibrium more effectively than salt resistant individuals, while salt resistant individuals maintains blood pressure equilibrium more effectively than salt sensitive individuals. This finding signifies that a high salt intake exacerbates hypertension among salt sensitive individuals.

Researchers continue to study the link between sodium and hypertension in an attempt to fully understand the mechanism of how sodium increases blood pressure.  While the exact process is not fully understood, many medical practitioners are trying to conduct studies to further improve management and control of hypertension among high risk groups of the population. Salt-sensitive individuals are one of such high risk groups.

If you have high blood pressure, you should eat no more than 1 teaspoon of salt per day. If you have been trying a low salt diet to reduce your hypertension for a while and haven’t succeeded,  your blood pressure may have other causes than your sensitivity to salt.


Hypertension News

April 14, 2012
Diabetes and high blood pressure

Half of all people with diabetes are failing to keep control of their blood pressure, thus risking “damaging” complications, concluded a recent UK study. The study was based on the National Diabetes Audit, that has the data of 90% of all UK diabetes patients.

High blood pressure increases the risk of conditions such as heart disease, kidney failure and stroke.

Improving the diet, losing weight, and taking medications are the three most effective ways to lower blood pressure and keeping it under control.

More about this: Diabetics fail to control blood pressure

Exercise To Lower Blood Pressure: News

April 12, 2012: Tai Chi Helps Seniors Lower Blood Pressure

When speaking about exercise to lower blood pressure, most people think of jogging or resistance training. Tai chi, an ancient Chinese exercise that can be described as the art of healing movement, is a gentle way to fend off development of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.

This is especially important for the elderly as they usually have issues with the joints and back, and in many cases osteoporosis, which may prevent them from reaping the full benefits of resistance training.

Even more importantly, in elderly people, vigorous exercise such as strength training may lead to a “decline in arterial compliance”. This means  that the walls of  their blood vessels don’t readily expand and contract as their heart needs them to. This can cause an increase in blood pressure, which, in turn, is associated with higher risk of stroke and heart attack.

Tai Chi could be a suitable exercise for older people to avoid this problem, according to the findings published online in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Read more about the research here: Elderly Tai Chi Adopters Lower Blood Pressure

Purple Potatoes Lower Blood Pressure – New Research

Purple potatoes lower blood pressure in overweight individuals, says the new study, recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Not only do they lower blood pressure, but they also help to reduce weight.

People in Korea and Peru knew it for centuries, as purple sweet potato is widely used there for these health benefits along with a number of others. But this is the first study to scientifically prove this belief and quantify the drop in blood pressure in the test group of individuals with excess weight.

Purple Potato - Food That Lowers Blood Pressure

Purple Potato - Food That Lowers Blood Pressure

Test subjects were eating 6-8 small microwaved sweet potatoes (Purple Majesty) per day. They were able to drop both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 4 percent. Although this seems small, this can move an individual out of the high risk zone for the heart disease into prehypertension zone. Interestingly enough, none of the study participants gained weight.

People in the US and Canada are careful to avoid potatoes when on a weight loss quest, but they should realize that different types of potatoes have different health benefits. Colour in sweet potatoes is a sign of antioxidants readily available to heal your body from a variety of ailments. Purple potatoes are not very popular in the Western diet, but perhaps it’s time to take another look at this root vegetable that may work better than anti-hypertensive drugs (and without side effects, too).

Purple Sweet Potatoes Recipes

Incorporate purple potatoes into your 1200 calorie DASH diet. One cup of purple potatoes provides two vegetable servings per day and contains only 114 calories. Two cups will cover your daily quota of vegetables. The trick is that you don’t just eat vegetables, you eat vegetables that lower blood pressure effectively.

The easiest healthy way to eat more sweet potatoes

We don’t generally advise microwaving as a healthy way to prepare your food, but we also believe we should look at the alternatives available. If you are so busy that microwaving is the only alternative to eating junk food, then by all means, go ahead and put those sweet potatoes into your microwave. They will store well and you can use them in a number of recipes.

If you can bake instead of microwaving, this option is much healthier.

I love baked sweet potatoes with a drop of lime juice instead of salt. It creates an amazing sweet and sour combination, pleasing to the palate.

Baked purple sweet potatoes can be mashed.

Baked purple sweet potatoes can be used in a salad.

One of the best ways to reap the benefits of the purple sweet potatoes is to juice them. Purple potato juice has healing properties not only for the high blood pressure, but also for digestion and the liver.

If you are BBQ-ing, slice purple potatoes in 1/2 inch thick slices, add some cayenne pepper and lime juice, and wrap them in aluminum foil, tightly closing any holes in it. Place on the BBQ together with the other stuff, and eat as a side dish.

I hope these ideas will help you start using more purple potatoes in your menu. If you are in the US or Canada, try oriental food stores. I always shop for purple sweet potatoes in the Chinese supermarket.

Low-Fat, Low-Carb Or 1200 Calorie DASH Diet?

Do you want to lose weight using the most effective diet? Are you wondering whether you should go on low-fat, low-carb or DASH diet to get the best results?

Is your head hurting yet from all those diets promising you rapid weight loss, each endorsed by doctors and weight loss professionals?

New research has just come out and, thankfully, provided sound recommendations based on years of experiements with large groups of volunteers.

You’ve heard statements that you won’t need to count calories as long as you eat certain foods in certain proportions…  Well, this seem to work only if your overall calorie consumption is reduced.

The results of this study suggest that  as long as you reduce the total amount of consumed calories, it  doesn’t matter where these calories come from.

Christopher Gardner, a Stanford University professor, said upon reviewing the paper,“If you’re happier doing it low fat, or happier doing it low carb, this paper says it’s okay to do it either way. They were equally successful.”

Earlier conclusions suggested that low carb diets seemed to work a bit better than the others, especially low carb high protein diets, but there is no consencus among scientists anymore. The key to success is COMPLIANCE and PERSISTENCE, as in every diet group individuals who stuck to the diet consistently lost the most weight and kept it off.

Because many people struggle with dieting, study authors recommended that they should select the one that’s easiest for them to stick with.

Dr. Bray, one of the study authors,  recommended the DASH Diet Plan, a diet  endorsed by the National Institutes of Health

“We would encourage patients to follow this diet modified as they and their health care provider chose to emphasize macronutrient changes that they thought might work best for them,” Bray said.

1200 calorie DASH diet for weight loss

The DASH diet plan emphasizes macronutrients consumed and therefore doesn’t control calories well. In order to make it a weight loss diet, it is important to tune it to provide a calorie deficit for every individual patient.

The DASH diet is very successful in reducing blood pressure, and originally, weight loss was a side benefit of it. However, more people start using the DASH diet plan to lose weight and fight hypertension at the same time, feeling the snowball effect of these two actions taken together.

Add to this carefully designed meals with Top L-Arginine Foods that lower blood pressure, and you are practically destined to succeed in bringing your blood pressure down.

So if you are a moderately active woman who exercises two-three times a week, you likely need more than 1200 calories per day to keep going. You can lose weight on 1500 calorie DASH diet. But if you are a short, rather inactive woman with a desk job and car to deliver you to your work and back, 1200 calorie DASH diet is a great tool to losing weight and fighting your hypertension.

You can get great calculators of needed calories, best exercise, and encouragement to stick to your diet plan at the #1 Fat Loss Community on Internet, Tom Venuto’s Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle Inner Circle Forum.

And you will get my best easy and healthy 1200 calorie DASH meal plans at this site. Stay tuned!

References: http://www.healthzone.ca/health/dietfitness/article/1123698–calories-count-but-not-where-they-come-from-study




Salt and hypertension: does sea salt lower blood pressure?

Many people take sea salt to lower blood pressure. Before doing this myself, I decided to find out whether there is any scientific basis behind this belief. I am sharing my conclusions with you in this one post, after examining multiple fact sheets, pages of nutritional analysis, and dozens of medical publications.

Ask any high blood pressure sufferer about connection between salt and hypertension, and chances are they know that eating more salt makes blood pressure rise. Even with DASH diet, low sodium DASH worked better than regular DASH ( By the way, check out my free 1200 calorie DASH diet plan)

Doctors have done a great job educating their patients about the connection between Sodium and hypertension.

But how does this knowledge translate into action, and what is the best action to take?
People tend to like simple solutions. They search for advice on the Internet and usually choose to use sea salt instead of table salt. This sounds easier to do than eliminating salt all together ( another popular piece of advice) or following special diets.

How will sea salt lower blood pressure?

Two popular explanations are:

  • Sea salt contains less Sodium
  • Sea salt contains Potassium that is known to help lower blood pressure

Sea salt contains less sodium – true of false?

If you believe that sea salt contains less Sodium, you are in majority. Six out of ten Americans incorrectly believe that sea salt is a low Sodium alternative to table salt, according to the American Health Association survey published in April 2011 and reviewed at the MedPage Today. This belief is dangerous because people may feel free to use more sea salt, and end up eating more Sodium than they should.

While it is, certainly, a healthier choice, it is not because it contains less Sodium. For example, my favorite natural salt, RealSalt, contains the same amount of Sodium as table salt. On the other hand, RealSalt contains 98.32% Sodium chloride and a long list of other minerals; Sodium accounts for 39.32% of the weight compared with 40% in standard table salt.

Sea salt contains Potassium that helps to lower blood pressure- true or false?

True and false. Sea salt does contain Potassium along with other vitally important trace minerals. But is it enough Potassium to influence your blood pressure compared with other sources of Potassium in food?

Target salt intake for persons with hypertension is between 3 and 5.9 grams per day. (This translates into daily recommended Sodium intake of between 50 mmol ( 1.2 g) and 100 mmol (2.3 g) in order to achieve a reduction in blood pressure.)
Potassium represents about one tenth of 1 percent of the sea salt weight ( divide weight of salt by about 1000):

  • 0.1% – 1.4 mg/serving of 1.4g ( 1/4 tsp) in RealSalt
  • 0.12-0.19% in Celtic Sea Salt

This means that by using sea salt instead of table salt you get 0.003 to 0.0059 grams of Potassium or, easier, 3 to 5.9 mg.
Of course any amount helps, but you are much better off eating bananas. One banana has 450 mg of Potassium, and this is only 20% of your recommended daily value.

Is natural sea salt good for lower blood pressure?

Based on two conclusions above, not really.

However, there is one more consideration that you have to keep in mind when deciding what type of salt to use. Time and time again, research proves that addressing just one single nutritional element doesn’t generate sustainable results. It’s a combination of nutrients in food that has a compound effect in lowering your blood pressure naturally.
If you review the nutritional profile of sea salt and compare it with pure processed table salt with added Aluminium and Iodine, you will see the multitude of trace minerals. Your body needs them to function properly. They cost a lot when you buy them bottled at the health store. Pure salt is stripped of all of them for the sake of better looks. Why not choose sea salt that is unprocessed and offers multitude of nutrients instead of just one?

Natural sea salt ( including RealSalt) also tastes significantly better because of this, which allows you to enjoy better tasting food while on low Sodium diet. This is why celebrity chefs usually use it in their cooking.

But this is not all – your cravings for salt may be cravings of salts of minerals other than Sodium due to the mineral deficiency in your body. You may find that sea salt satisfies your taste buds better than regular salt.

So in conclusion, switching to sea salt is beneficial for your overall health. It can help you lower your blood pressure naturally, however not because it contains less Sodium or more Potassium. It’s because it may help you stick to a lower Sodium diet and replenish essential trace minerals lacking in your diet. Using sea salt is an easy step you could take immediately, but is should not be the only step.


  1. Celtic Sea Salt Analysis
  2. RealSalt Nutritional Analysis

Seaweed – food that lowers blood pressure?

Recent study done by the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Dublin analyzed data from 100 existing studies and found that adding seaweed to your diet can help lower blood pressure.

But wait – haven’t the Japanese believed in it all along? A lot of Japanese studies show that traditional miso soup lowers blood pressure. People on the West often can not believe this because miso itself is a high sodium food. It was thought to be a synergy of ingredients of the miso soup, especially seaweed, that made this dish effective in fighting hypertension.

Does seaweed lower blood pressure?

I haven’t come across conclusive studies except the one I mentioned in this post and Japanese studies about benefits of seaweed-based diet and miso soup. However, here is how researchers from Teagasc Food Research Centre think seaweed works to lower blood pressure:

Seaweed is full of microelements essential for health, but, most importantly, it contains a lot of bioactive type of proteins called peptides. It is thought that bioactive peptides in seaweed have similar properties to ACE inhibitor medications that is often prescribed to hypertensive patients.

I buy nori sheets regularly in the Korean and Chinese supermarkets. Nori sheets are easy to use in cooking. You can cut them with scissors and add to your soup, you can make nori wraps or maki as an appetizer, and even eat roasted nori sheets as a snack.

Another super beneficial seaweed available in stores is kelp. The most interesting use of it is raw kelp noodles that I enjoyed at the raw food restaurant. Imagine eating pasta that is good for you! Dried kelp is added to homemade miso soups – you really need a pinch of dried, dehydrated kelp to make a soup.

So eat your suchi, shake some dried seaweed flakes into your soup and buy some vegan seaweed snacks. After all, whatever works to lower blood pressure naturally may save you from taking medications.