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Book Reviews

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Healthy Eating for Lower Blood Pressure

Book Review

Healthy Eating for Lower Blood Pressure
By Paul Gayler with Gemma Heiser
Kyle Books (2010)
Reviewed by Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN

Claims

Healthy Eating for Lower Blood Pressure, touted as the first cookbook to focus solely on foods to lower blood pressure, also contains practical information about foods to include or avoid in your diet and why, how to decrease your salt intake, plus helpful nutritional advice on living with high blood pressure. Further, the author claims this is the first time a chef and nutritionist have teamed up.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

This cookbook begins with a foreword from the National Hypertension Association, an endorsement which lends credibility to the information.

The book’s introduction covers areas such as:

  • Learn what makes a healthy balanced diet and how to achieve the right balance.
  • Tips on how to cut down on salt including, uncovering hidden salt and salt swaps
  • Discover how eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day can lower blood pressure and reduce risk of diabetes and obesity.
  • Practical advice on how to reduce body weight and increase physical activity
  • Information on the effects alcohol has on blood pressure and ways to cut down on alcohol consumption
  • Essential equipment for healthy cooking
  • Cooking methods that will retain flavor and nutrients
  • Stocking a healthy kitchen pantry.

The highlights of each section include charts and Key Points—bulleted section summaries that emphasize the important takeaway message of each section.

The book contains than 100 beautifully illustrated recipes for breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. Each recipe includes nutrition information for calories, protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, fiber and sodium.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

The information in the introduction is evidenced-based, with guidelines much the same as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) meal plan, which is proven to lower blood pressure. Readers are encouraged to make small gradual changes in their eating habits and not to take the pleasure out of eating by over analyzing their diet. Chef Paul says: "Eat sensibly and you’ll feel better for it."

With that said, the sodium level in the recipes range from extremely low to high, with several main dishes over 800 milligrams of sodium per serving. However, the author also includes guidelines in the introduction for balancing high-sodium foods with lower sodium foods.

As a registered dietitian, if I were working with Chef Paul, I would have encouraged him to omit the very high-sodium recipes. The reader who delves right into the recipe section without reading the introduction will find the higher sodium recipes disappointing and confusing.

Bottom Line

The pros far outweigh the cons. I would recommend Healthy Eating for Lower Blood Pressure to anyone who wants to eat healthfully—high blood pressure or not. The information is doable and the recipes are appetizing. The person who takes the time to carefully read the introduction will be successful and enjoy the taste of eating right.