Recommended Diet for Controlling High Blood Pressure
Anyone with high blood pressure must take note of a special diet that is low in salt or sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fat and added sugars. Even people without high blood pressure can benefit from following this dietary advice.
Control Your Salt Intake
Too much salt in the food you eat can cause fluid retention, which leads to an increase in blood pressure.
To avoid cases of high blood pressure, your doctor will most likely advise you to limit your salt intake to just 1 teaspoon each day.
The American Heart Association recommends up to 1,500 milligrams of salt intake per day for individuals with hypertension, chronic kidney disease or diabetes. The same recommendation applies to anyone who is African-American or is 51 years old and older. For healthy individuals, the upper limit is 2,300 milligrams of salt per day.
Here are some tips to help you stay low in your sodium intake. Use low sodium seasonings and no-salt added foods. Also, make sure to read nutrition labels and check how much sodium the packaged food contains per serving.
Get More Potassium
Potassium plays an important role in the prevention and control of high blood pressure. It helps to keep the quantity of sodium in your cells in balance. Don’t forget to consume enough potassium-rich foods to keep the sodium in your blood in check.
Avoid Drinking Too Much Alcohol
One sure way to increase blood pressure is to drink alcohol. It happens even if you’re not hypertensive. So, when you drink, watch out especially your blood pressure.
Women of any age and men who are 65 years old and above should only have one drink per day. Younger men can have up to two alcoholic drinks per day.
Just to remind you that one drink is equivalent to 4 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof hard liquor or 1 ounce of 100 proof hard liquor.
Supplements That Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
It’s not proven scientifically that supplements can reduce blood pressure. However, some healthcare providers are saying that taking supplements can be beneficial.
It’s not yet clear how supplements can lower blood pressure. More research studies are necessary to understand this.
In case you are planning to take any of the supplements listed below, be sure to get a clearance from your doctor first. The supplement may react with your medications and you might experience undesirable side effects.
- Calcium and potassium mineral supplements
- Fiber supplements including blood psyllium and wheat bran
- Supplements, such as cocoa, garlic or coenzyme Q10, can widen blood vessels or increase nitric oxide
- Probiotics, though it’s not known what it can do on blood pressure
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Follow the DASH Diet
Any person who’s been diagnosed with high blood pressure may need to follow the DASH diet. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH diet is highly recommended by doctors. It includes heart-healthy foods and ensures that the food you eat are low fat, low cholesterol, and low sodium but nutrient-rich.
What to Eat
The DASH diet may include the following food items:
Low-fat diary food items
Whole grain bread and pasta
What Not to Eat
Red meats, both fatty and lean
The DASH diet can be made to suit individual needs. Here’s a sample of a one-day 2,000-calorie DASH diet with the recommended servings from each food group.
6 – 8 servings of grains
4 – 5 servings of veggies
4 – 5 servings of fruits
2 – 3 servings of dairy products
6 or less servings of fish, lean meat and poultry
2 – 3 servings of fats and oils
Can the Mediterranean Diet Help Reduce Blood Pressure?
The Mediterranean diet is similar to the DASH diet in some ways.
High intake of fruits, veggies, cereals, bread, beans, seeds, nuts and potatoes
Low to moderate intake of fish, poultry and dairy products
Uses olive oil as monounsaturated fat source
Low intake of red meat
Eat eggs up to 4 times per week
Low to moderate wine consumption
The Mediterranean diet is often associated with some health benefits , however, the American Heart Association does not recommend it as an option for reducing heart disease yet. Until studies have proven that it is the reason for the low mortality rates from heart disease in the Mediterranean countries and not other factors like physical exercise or social support, then this diet will remain a personal preference.
DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure; Mayo Clinic.
High blood pressure (hypertension); Mayo Clinic.
Mediterranean Diet; American Heart Association
What is High Blood Pressure?; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
What is High Blood Pressure?; American Heart Association.
Photo credits: By Linda Bartlett (Photographer) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons