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To Your Good Health: The DASH Diet Works for Hypertension

Dear Dr. Roach: Several times, I have seen an explanation of the DASH diet in your column, and as many as I have cut out and saved, I can’t seem to find any. It has been suggested that my husband go on the DASH diet. Your explanation was the best. Can you either print it again or send it to me? — J.K.

Answer: Dr. Donohue wrote this in this column last year, and I can hardly improve on it:

DASH, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a doable, simple and good-tasting diet. People are disappointed to find out that the diet is contained on one page with straightforward directives. The sheet lists the number of servings of a particular food group, what constitutes a serving and examples of the foods in each group. That’s all there is. You can expect a drop of eight to 14 points in blood pressure if you’re faithful to it. One of the most important diet changes is limiting sodium (salt) consumption to 1,500 grams. Here’s the diet:

GRAINS: Six to eight servings a day; whole-grain breads like wheat, cereals (both dry and cooked), brown rice and pastas are grains. A serving is one slice of bread, 1 cup of dry cereal and half a cup of cooked cereal.

FRUITS: Four to six daily servings, with a serving being a moderately sized whole fruit, a half-cup of frozen or canned fruit or a half-cup of fruit juice.

VEGETABLES: Four to five servings a day, with a serving being 1 cup of leafy green veggie, 1/2 cup cut up, raw or cooked vegetables or 1/2 cup vegetable juice.

DAIRY: Two to three servings a day of low-fat dairy products, with a serving being a cup of skim or low-fat milk, a cup of yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces of cheese.

LEAN MEATS, POULTRY, FISH: Six or fewer servings a day. A serving is 1 ounce of cooked meat, skinless chicken or fish. One egg is also a serving.

NUTS, SEEDS, DRY BEANS: Four to five servings a week. One serving is a third cup of nuts, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1/2 cup of dry beans.

FATS AND OILS: Two to three servings a day, with a serving being equal to 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of margarine, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons of salad dressing.

SWEETS: Five or less a week. A serving is a tablespoon of sugar or a teaspoon of jam or jelly.

I would just add to this to make sure all oils and fats you use are free of trans fat, which increases the risk of heart disease, and if you must use canned fruit, wash it first to get rid of the sugar syrup it is usually packed in. I also recommend fruit of any kind to fruit juice.

Dear Dr. Roach: My husband uses a drop of Super Glue to treat his cracked finger tips. He says that it provides immediate pain relief and promotes healing. Is there any health risk in this practice? — N.M.

Answer: The major health risk to the chemical in Super Glue is that the fumes are irritating, but it can cause also a skin reaction as well. Using in a well-ventilated area and keeping it on the nail is probably very safe. There is medical superglue that surgeons use in the operating room.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or write to P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.