Unwelcome Intruder. Like a sneaky thief, high blood pressure is silent and stealthy in its course, but serious—even deadly in its effects. It progresses slowly—often without symptoms—but this unwelcome invader causes metabolic mayhem including heart attack and stroke; blood vessel, kidney, brain, and eye damage.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition that kills more people worldwide than any other single cause.
Seventy-three million Americans, or one-third of the adult population, have high blood pressure (140/90 mm/Hg or higher). Another third of the population have prehypertension (blood pressure readings between 120/80 and 139/89 mm/Hg). A blood pressure in this range doubles the risk of heart attack or stroke. A normal or healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm/Hg.
DASH! to Lower Blood Pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
• Limiting saturated fats and increasing fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts significantly reduced blood pressure within 2 weeks.
• Combining the above dietary changes plus reducing sodium produced the best results.
• Restricting the consumption of red meat, refined foods, sweets, and sugary drinks reduced blood pressure and cholesterol.
• 77 percent of those who combined daily exercise with more plant nutrition and less meat reduced high blood pressure to normal levels within 6 months.
The Adventist Health Study has further shown that:
• Similar to DASH diet participants, those who ate little or no meat had the lowest blood pressure of any group.
• A vegan or vegetarian diet is linked to reduced risk for numerous chronic ailments; healthier weight; longer life; and better quality of life.