A Diet For Hypertension

The healthy DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet plan was developed to lower blood pressure without medication in research sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health. 

Blood pressure is necessary to make our blood flow around the body to supply oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and vital organs. However, when the blood pressure gets too high, the heart has to pump harder and small blood vessels in the brain may burst to cause heart failure and strokes respectively.

Watch Stop Hypertension with the DASH diet

What people do not realise is that high blood pressure is a ‘silent killer’ because in the beginning there is no symptoms until it is too late. That is why health practitioners keep advising patients to self-monitor their blood pressure regularly and eat well to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Do refer to how article ‘What is hypertension’.

Classification of Elevated Blood Pressure

The DASH diet recommends correct portion size and emphasizes fruits, vegetables, low fat or non-fat dairy. The plan follows US guidelines for lower sodium content, along with vitamins and minerals (such as potassium, calcium and magnesium). In addition to lowering blood pressure, the DASH eating plan helps lower cholesterol and makes it easy to lose weight.

Successful adoption of any new diet is about gradual change. If you now eat only one or two servings of fruits or vegetables a day, try to add a serving at lunch and one at dinner. Try to avoid canned or dried fruits as they have added sugar. Rather than switching to all whole grains, start by making one or two of your grain servings whole grains.

Reduce salt in your diet

  • Sodium is salt is restricted to (note that 1 teaspoon of salt has 2,325 mg sodium)
  • The standard DASH diet (2,300 mg sodium per day which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon salt)
  • The lower sodium DASH diet (< 1,500 mg sodium per day which is equivalent to 2/3 teaspoon salt)

The low sodium DASH diet reduced blood pressure by average of 11 mmHg in patients with hypertension while normal people reduced by 3 mmHg.  It has been shown that the diet reduces the risk of stroke (by 29%) and heart disease (by 20%) as well as diabetes to a lesser extent.

Add exercise into your diet plan

The diet plan should also be supplemented by exercise.  Just 30 minutes of brisk walking a day for 5 days a week can reduce your blood pressure by around 13 and 18 mmHg in systolic and diastolic pressure respectively.

Click to read our article on How much should we exercise daily


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