My husband is 54 years old. He has just been diagnosed as having high blood pressure. He is overweight. I want to help him reach a healthy weight. Any suggestions?
A. I think the entire family should to move toward seating heart-healthy foods. Let there not be two rules: one for the adults in the family and one for the children. If your husband has developed high blood pressure, your children too are at risk for developing hypertension and diabetes as they get older. If you switch to healthier foods, everybody benefits. The best thing that you can do for your hypertensive husband is to use less salt in cooking. Each day, cut back a little on the amount of salt you add to foods. In the beginning, everybody in the family will complain about it but once the palate gets used to less salt, the inherent tastes of the ingredients in the dish will come through. Avoid pickles. Papads are high in salt content. One thing to remember for your children is that ketchup (tomato sauce) is high in salt content.When you shop, buy fruits and vegetables instead of chips and savoury snacks. Switch from rice to wheat and oats. If your family wants rice, restrict it to 1 meal a day (remember idlis and dosas are also rice and need to be counted as a meal with rice). Make sure to trim the fat from any meat that you are cooking. The skin of chicken should be discarded. Egg yolk should be eliminated from the diet or restricted to a maximum of two per week. Use heart-friendly cooking oils like sunflower, safflower and olive oil. Eliminate coconut oil, ghee, butter and hydrogenated oil from your cooking. Skim milk which contains no fat, and double toned milk which contains 2% fat, still contain the milk protein and calcium that adults and children require. The most important thing that you can do for your husband and your family is to create a culture of exercise. Brisk walking would be an ideal start.