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Healthy Heart Reports

Ninety Percent Of Americans Will Suffer High Blood Pressure

An article from the Framingham study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that 90 percent of Americans will develop high blood pressure as they age. The Framingham study was started almost 50 years ago to see what lifestyle factors affect the health of the American people. This multi-million dollar government-supported study carried on by Harvard School of Public Health shows that high cholesterol is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, but you already know that. This same study showed that lowering high cholesterol helps prevent heart attacks, and you know that also.

Forty years ago, this study showed that high blood pressure increases your risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and premature death. Last week, the Framingham study showed that diabetes can be prevented by eating a diet very low in meat, chicken, whole milk dairy products, bakery products and pastas and high in whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Now the Framingham study shows that more than 90 percent of Americans will develop high blood pressure as they grow older, and most will die from heart attacks, strokes , diabetes and kidney disease caused by high blood pressure.

The DASH Study showed that the DASH diet will cure high blood pressure in more than 80 percent of people who go on it. So the handwriting is on the wall. It's your fault if you do not prolong your life by eating a diet with a daily intake of at least 10 servings of whole grains, at least 5 servings of vegetables, at least five servings of fruits, and plenty of beans, nuts and other seeds. The odds are overwhelming that you will never get a heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure or die early if you eat this way.

For years doctors have recommended that you restrict salt, but now research shows that adding salt to food is an insignificant player in high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. A plant-based diet, with few processed foods, is low in salt even if you add salt whenever you like. If you eat a meat-based diet, you should not add extra salt because all animal tissues are loaded with salt. Plants are loaded with potassium, while meat, poultry and diary products all contain salt; blood tastes salty because it is salty.

A healthful diet, with plenty of plants and few processed foods or animal products, is low in salt even if you add as much salt to your meals as you like. No one has ever shown that not adding salt to food lowers high blood pressure. To prevent or treat high blood pressure, reduce your intake of the natural food sources of salt: meat, chicken, whole milk diary products; and virtually all processed foods. These are the foods that are also give you saturated fats, partially hydrogenated oils and refined carbohydrates, and are low in antioxidants and other phytochemicals. No one has shown which of these components is most important.

JAMA February 27, 2002


Copyright 2002
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

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