COMMENTARY

The Best Antihypertensive Nutritional Advice

Henry R. Black, MD; Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH

Disclosures

July 24, 2013

In This Article

Weight Loss and Empty Calories

Dr. Black: This is not a weight-loss diet, right? This is a healthy diet.

Dr. Appel: Right. A second recommendation for controlling blood pressure is weight loss. There has always been a lot of debate about whether a certain type of diet is more effective than another, but our experience in weight-control studies tells us that the key issue is calories and knowing where the calories come from. Some people focus on sugar-sweetened beverages, which I think is very important, but I find that that is a problem in adolescents and young adults who consume a lot of full-calorie sodas. The issue for most adults is not so much sugar-sweetened beverages but other types of foods that are consumed in large portions that are calorie dense, such as desserts. The key should be calories.

Dr. Black: People talk about empty calories. What's that?

Dr. Appel: Empty calories are foods that provide high calories but very few nutrients. Sodas are the classic ones, where you can consume huge amounts of calories and the nutrients might not be all that helpful. A lot of colas are rich in phosphates, and there is a concern that they could have a deleterious effect on kidneys and other target organs. Desserts would be another example of empty calories, where you're not really getting vitamins or minerals; you're getting calories without much else.

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