Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUESTION: My doc says that if I don’t bring my blood pressure down I am going to have to take anti-hypertensive medications.
I hate taking pills, so what should I do?
— William T., Gloucester, Mass.
ANSWER: Getting your blood pressure to normal is a key factor in avoiding a stroke or heart attack, not to mention impotence.
Even if your doc suggested medications (they are effective), we’re guessing lifestyle changes also were recommended. A 16-week study presented at the American Heart Association’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions offers evidence that upgrading your daily habits can make a big difference pretty quickly in your cardiovascular health.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina worked with people who were overweight and had blood pressure in the 130-160/80-99 range.
For four months, the participants exercised three times weekly (150 minutes total) and followed the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet. DASH basics are:
>> Six to eight servings a day of whole grains: brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread (1 serving equals 1/2 cup rice or pasta, 1 slice bread).
>> Four to five daily servings of fruits (1 serving equals 1/2 apple, 1 orange or 8 strawberries).
>> Four to five servings of vegetables daily (1 serving equals 1/2 cup cooked green or orange veggies or 1 cup leafy greens).
>> Two to three servings of low- or no-fat dairy (1 serving equals 1 cup low-fat milk or yogurt).
>> Six ounces daily of lean meats like skinless poultry, salmon, ocean trout.
>> Four to five servings of almonds, walnuts, kidney beans, peas, lentils weekly (1 serving equals 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup).
>> Use healthy oils, like extra-virgin olive oil, and avoid saturated and trans fats, minimize alcohol and drink plenty of coffee. (For more details on DASH, visit bit.ly/2xX79Z7.)
Study participants lost around 19 pounds, reduced systolic blood pressure (top number) by 16 points and diastolic (lower number) by 10! Ask your doctor if you can try that approach first. Remember, to avoid a stroke, you want your blood pressure below 125/85.