Q. I was just diagnosed with high blood pressure. I heard that I should avoid certain foods while taking my medicine. Is this true? And if so, what foods?
A. Maintaining ideal body weight, minimizing sodium intake and understanding the relationship between certain foods and medications are the first steps to preventing and treating hypertension. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Decrease sodium intake to less than 6 gm per day, and limit alcohol to one to two drinks per day, depending on body weight. Avoid consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice within four hours of taking medications. Chemicals in grapefruit can increase levels of certain drugs in the blood, interfere with the break-down of some medications, and increase the potential for side effects. Diuretics can effectively treat hypertension, but some diuretics may lower your potassium level while others may actually increase it. ACE-inhibitors may also increase blood potassium levels, which in excess can be harmful. Read the medication information regarding warnings, side effects and interactions, and consult your pharmacist or physician.
Mark C. Thel, M.D., FACC
The Chattanooga Heart Institute
2501 Citico Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37404