The first question that every patient of high blood pressure asks of the healthcare professional or a physician is regarding his diet. Indeed food is a major source of concern to all patients as well as care givers. Food is also a political issue. Very little focus is placed on training of physicians in food and nutrition counseling and the burgeoning food industry has therefore placed its own interests above that of the patients’ health. The hypertension dietary statement from the American Heart Association is a welcome change and shall provide scientific basis to dietary recommendation for a large group of health workers.1.
It has been suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that a diet low in energy-dense foods that are high in saturated fats and sugars, and abundant in fruit and vegetables, together with an active lifestyle are among the key measures to combat chronic disease especially high blood pressure and its vascular complications. This WHO report, commissioned by the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from a team of global experts, aims to identify new recommendations for governments on diet and exercise to tackle the ever increasing number of people who die each year from chronic diseases.2 The burden of chronic diseases – which include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and obesity – is rapidly increasing worldwide. In 2001, chronic diseases contributed approximately 59% of the 56.5 million total reported deaths in the world and 46%of the global burden of disease. This Expert Report is highly significant because it contains the best currently available scientific evidence on the relationship of diet, nutrition and physical activity to chronic diseases, based on the collective judgment of a group of experts with a global perspective. The Report includes advice on ways of changing daily nutritional intake and increasing energy expenditure by:
Evidence suggests that excessive consumption of energy-rich foods can encourage weight gain, the report says and calls for a limit in the consumption of saturated and trans fats, sugars and salt in the diet, noting they are often found in snacks, processed foods and drinks. The quality of fats and oils in a diet, as well as the amount of salt consumed, the report says, can also have an influence on cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart attacks. It is important that these measures are implemented on a large scale in Indian subcontinent where all forms of cardiovascular diseases- hypertension, coronary heart disease and diabetes are rampant.
- reducing energy-rich foods high in saturated fat and sugar;
- cutting the amount of salt in the diet;
- increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet.
- undertaking moderate-intensity physical activity for at least an hour a day.