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Non-pharmacological methods of treating diseases such as hypertension have been proved effective. Among them, dietary and lifestyle interventions take a somewhat special place. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) patterns in diet, for instance, are a set of dietary rules to keep systolic blood pressure and BMI under control. Although the DASH diet principles are quite easy to follow, the food patterns may vary from culture to culture, which explains the necessity to acknowledge the patient’s cultural background when explaining the dietary needs.
The success of culturally adapted DASH patterns was indicated by the known HIP (Hypertension Improvement Project) Latino, targeted specifically at the Hispanic population residing at Triangle area of North Carolina (Rocha-Goldberg et al., 2010). The pretest-posttest design of the study was used to measure the initial status and the post-intervention outcomes for 17 Hispanic males and females with hypertension aged 18 or older (the sample was larger but the response rate was low among the participants).
The study showed those who complied with DASH dietary regulations had lower systolic blood pressure compared to the pre-test; the participants also demonstrated a decrease in body weight and better physical performance. The cultural adaptation was regarded as a critical component of the program, which may have contributed to its success. Another success factor may have been the overall compliance with the prescriptions in Hispanics than any other population: research indicates that an overwhelming majority of hypertensive Hispanic patients tend to adhere to dietary regulations when a proper explanation is provided (Nainggolan, 2009).
The DASH diet
The DASH diet is focused on providing the organism with fiber-rich foods and lean protein and reducing the amount of fat and sugar. Grains are regarded as the main source of energy, with 6-8 servings consumed daily. Vegetables and fruits are other sources of dietary fiber, with 4-5 servings of each per day. A typical DASH daily plan should also include 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products and 2 servings of lean meat, fish, or poultry.
The healthy lipids from nuts and seeds are consumed from 4-5 servings of nuts per week. Unless the patient consumes an adequate amount of fat from the meat, additional servings of fat can be also required during the day. As to sugars, the DASH diet limits the sweets intake to the daily servings of fructose from fruit and additional 5 servings of sugar per week (The DASH Diet – Spanish, 2015).
To adapt the DASH plan to the needs of Hispanic patients accustomed to the food within their cultural context, it takes some research into the products generally consumed by the Hispanic population. The general advice to patients can be to seek foods that offer more vegetables and smaller portions of meat. Refried beans should be replaced by whole negro or pinto beans that are not prepared with excess fat. Fried items such as crispy taco shells should be limited, as well as fatty sour cream.
The choice should be made in favor of soft whole-wheat or corn tortillas. Suitable food choices could include bean or tortilla soups, grilled chicken soft tacos or enchiladas, lean chicken burritos with green lettuce, pico de gallo with the oil served on the side, etc. The materials and diet plans can be provided in Spanish to enhance understanding and demonstrativeness; a considerable body of such information is present on the Web (World Cuisine, n.d.).
Nainggolan, L. (2009). Dietary Advice Should Be Tailored to Ethnic Groups.
Rocha-Goldberg, M. P., Corsino, L., Batch, B., Voils, C. I., Thorpe, C. T., Bosworth, H. B., & Svetkey, L. P. (2010). Hypertension Improvement Project (HIP) Latino: results of a pilot study of lifestyle intervention for lowering blood pressure in Latino adults. Ethnicity and Health, 15(3), 269-282.
The DASH Diet – Spanish. (2015).
World Cuisine. (n.d.).