Many people think that medication is the only solution to fight high blood pressure, but there are other common lifestyle factors that can seriously affect blood pressure levels, especially diet. Despite affecting such a large population, only about 24% of your high blood pressure is affected, says Dr. Vicki Petersen, a clinical dietitian and board-certified physician in functional medicine. Mainly if you’ll modify the way you eat it may contribute to your high blood pressure.
What Foods To Avoid If You Have Hypertension?
Salt, or sodium, is the main cause of high blood pressure. However, unrefined salt is used to flavor foods that can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Excess salt draws water into your blood vessels to help balance excess sodium, and as a result, increases blood volume, which increases blood pressure.
Sugar, especially fructose, can directly affect blood pressure. Fructose reduces healthy levels of nitric oxide, a substance that widens blood vessels. Nitric oxide also maintains the elasticity of the vessels, which is another factor in lowering blood pressure.
Processed meats like hot dogs, ham, pancakes, bacon, and dogs are coated in sodium and therefore contain very high amounts. The mechanism is similar to the one discussed previously about how salt raises blood pressure, but processed meats also exacerbate inflammation due to all the preservatives and chemicals they contain.
Unhealthy trans fats and saturated fats increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL), which removes harmful cholesterol from the body, which is important for the prevention of high blood pressure. Trans fats are found in many packaged foods, while saturated fats are found in red meat, butter, chicken, and ice cream.
DASH means Diet to Stop High Blood Pressure. The DASH diet is a healthy plan designed to help people treat or prevent high blood pressure. The DASH diet will include foods rich in many minerals and nutrients that help control blood pressure. The diet limits foods with high quantities of sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.
Many studies show that the DASH diet could decrease blood pressure in a few weeks. Also it’s proved that this diet could also decrease low-density lipoprotein and cholesterol levels in the blood. For consequence, the DASH diet diminishes risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
The DASH diet lowers high blood pressure by reducing sodium intake by 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. Reducing sodium to 1,500 mg per day further lowers blood pressure. The DASH diet also includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods that may help some people lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
The DASH diet will modify your lifestyle, so the principal things that you will do is:
- You’ll eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and fat-free or fat-free dairy
- It will include whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts and vegetable oils.
- You will eat fish, poultry and lean meats.
- You will reduce salt, red meat, sweets and sugary drinks
- Reduce alcoholic beverages
- You should also get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Examples include brisk walking or bicycling. Set a goal to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise a week.It can also help you lose extra weight.
- Most people can benefit from reducing sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day. Your doctor may suggest lowering it to 1,500 mg per day if:
If you are taking medication to treat high blood pressure, do not stop taking it while following the DASH diet. Be sure to tell your provider that you follow this diet.
How do you start?
With the DASH diet, you can eat foods from all the food groups. But it will include more foods that are naturally low in salt, cholesterol, and saturated fat. It will also include foods rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber.
The DASH diet is designed to be easy to follow. However, it may mean making some changes to your current way of eating. To get started:
- Change your eating habits gradually. To add vegetables to your diet, try a salad for lunch. Or add cucumbers, lettuce, shredded carrots, or tomatoes to sandwiches.
- There is always something green on your plate. Just check on the packaging that the product has no added salt or fat.
- Add sliced fruit to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal. For dessert, choose fresh fruit or low-fat yogurt instead of high-calorie desserts like cakes or pastries.
- Choose healthy snacks, such as salt-free rice cakes or popcorn, raw vegetables, or yogurt. Dried fruits, seeds, and nuts are also great snack options. Just keep portions small because these foods are high in total calories. Make meat part of your meal instead of the main course.
It seems difficult to change aspects of your life, but it’s really important that you decrease the risk factors if you have high blood pressure. Just eat healthy, reduce the sodium and fats, and your body will appreciate it.
“Disclaimer: This article is just information and was not written to give any advice or replace any professional indication. Any doubt you have please consult a doctor”