Blood pressure allows your heart to pump oxygen and nutrient-rich blood out to the rest of your body for vital functions. Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day based on your body’s needs. However, chronic elevated pressure to the wall of the arteries forces the heart to pump extra blood out to the body, leading to an increased burden to the heart and a risk of inflammation, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
Some nutrients can affect your blood pressure positively or negatively. Excessive sodium and alcohol consumption increases blood pressure by increasing blood volume in the body. Too much saturated fat in your diet is also associated with increased bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure. On the other hand, high amounts of potassium and antioxidants can decrease blood pressure by signalling the kidneys to excrete excess sodium and reducing inflammation and damage caused by increased blood pressure. Lifestyle choices including smoking and a sedentary lifestyle are also risk factors for hypertension.
The good news is that hypertension can be prevented and managed through diet and lifestyle changes. Particularly, a DASH (Diet Approach to Stop Hypertension) eating pattern that consists of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can help maintain your normal blood pressure. Increased physical activity in addition to a healthy diet can positively contribute to your blood pressure, stress and weight management.
LIFESTYLE TIPS FOR MANAGING HYPERTENSION
• Practice reading nutrition labels of packaged products such as chips and frozen pizza since these foods tend to be high in sodium and saturated fat.
• Use more herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor your meals. Basil, oregano, garlic, and ginger are very economical and versatile seasonings.
• Any form of exercise, especially aerobic exercise, helps improve your blood pressure and heart health. Try exercises that you enjoy – walking, jogging, weight training etc. At least 2.5 hours of exercise per week is shown to have many health benefits including reduced blood pressure.
• Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, but chronically elevated blood pressure can have a negative impact on your heart.
• The following nutrients can affect your blood pressure: excessive sodium, alcohol, and saturated fat can increase blood pressure; however, potassium and antioxidants can help reduce blood pressure.
• A DASH diet is high in potassium and antioxidants and low in sodium and saturated fat. This eating pattern helps maintain normal blood pressure.
KEY NUTRIENTS & FOODS THAT HELP ALLEVIATE SYMPTOMS
• Focus on LOW SODIUM foods. Avoid packaged foods with lots of ingredients that you can’t pronounce or don’t sound familiar.
• WHOLE, MINIMALLY PROCESSED plant foods are high in fiber and antioxidants and low in sodium and saturated fat. Incorporating various fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet can have a positive impact on your blood pressure and overall health.
• POTASSIUM-RICH foods help reduce blood pressure by removing excess sodium out of the body. Plant based foods such as, lentils, spinach, avocados, bananas, nuts, sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium.
Selection of Our Meals That Are Suitable for This Condition
• Salmon Pasta
• Sweet and Sour chicken
• Vietnamese Style Beef Pho Bowl
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding diet.
This article has been reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Sayuri Barritt, MS. RD. and Dani Cuddeback, MS. RD. CD.