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Managing Hypertension

Dietary Restrictions

1) Low sodium intake: The main source of sodium in Western diets is processed food, for instance, excessive quantities of salt are contained in packaged food and in food eaten outside the home. The DASH trial evaluated the effects of varying sodium intake in addition to the DASH diet and found that lowering sodium intake reduces blood pressure levels. Mean sodium intake is approximately 4,100 mg per day for men and 2,750 mg per day for women, 75% of which comes from processed foods.

Recommended Daily Sodium Intake Dietary sodium should be reduced to no more than 100 mmol per day (2.4 g of sodium).

2) Alcohol: Alcohol intake should be limited to no more than 1 oz (30 mL) of ethanol, the equivalent of two drinks per day for most men and no more than 0.5 oz of ethanol (one drink) per day for women and lighter-weight persons. A single drink is equivalent to 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of 80-proof liquor.

3) Caffeine: Caffeine may result in high blood pressure; however, this effect is usually temporary. Moderate intake of caffeine per day does not significantly increase blood pressure.

Recommended Daily Coffee Intake Coffee intake should be less than two cups per day.

Dietary Supplements

1) Potassium supplementation: Lower potassium intake (i.e., below 40 mEq) is thought to be associated with high blood pressure.

2) Fish Oil: According to a meta-analysis of 36 trials of fish oil, the consumption of high doses of fish oil with a median dose of 3.7 g per day provided a significant reduction in systemic blood pressure. Fish oil consumption has also shown to reduce triglycerides.

Recommended Daily Fish Oil Intake A median dose of 3.7 g per day provided a significant reduction in systemic blood pressure.

3) Folate: A small randomized study reported that short-term folic acid supplementation could reduce blood pressure significantly. It has been suggested that a daily intake of 5 mg of folic acid could be beneficial in reducing systolic pressure.

4) Flavonoids: A Cochrane meta-analysis looking at multiple randomized controlled trials reported that flavanol-rich chocolate and cocoa products may have a small but significant effect in lowering blood pressure by 2-3 mm/Hg in the short term.

5) Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Some studies suggest that CoQ10 may have the potential to reduce systolic pressure by up to 17 mm Hg and diastolic pressure by up to 10 mm Hg without any significant side effects. The average dosage used in these studies were around 217 mg/day.