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.

What people do not realise is that high blood pressure (known as hypertension) 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.

Click Rutland Community Health Team video on Applying DASH diet to your Life

Principles of the DASH Diet

The DASH diet recommends correct portion size and emphasises on more 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 also helps lower cholesterol and makes it easy to lose weight.

‘Try to make one change per day’

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 extra 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 servings of grains per day.

Reduce salt content in your diet

The low sodium DASH diet reduces blood pressure by average of 11 mmHg in patients with hypertension while normal people is reduced by 3 mmHg.  It has been shown that the DASH diet may reduce the risk of stroke (by 29%) and heart disease (by 20%).  One teaspoon of salt has 2,325 mg sodium.  The commendations for daily sodium intake is;

  • For standard DASH diet is < 2,300 mg sodium per day (equivalent to around 1 teaspoon salt)
  • For lower sodium DASH diet is < 1,500 mg sodium per day (equivalent to 2/3 teaspoon salt)

Click to view Healthy Blood Pressure video on Diet for Hypertension

AVOID hidden salts in our foods

Here is list of the more common foods with hidden salts which you may not be aware of;

  • Bread
  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches or burgers
  • Cured meats and sausages
  • Soup (both can or packet variety)
  • Savoury snacks (like crisps or salted peanuts)
  • Prepared sauces like pesto or pasta sauces
  • Condiments like tomato ketchup or soy sauce and salad dressings
  • Instant noodles
  • Cheeses
  • Most canned foods

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.  Make exercise fun and spontaneous  by doing some brisk walking around your garden or neighbourhood in the morning and after dinner as a family activity and watch your blood pressure improve. 

Discuss your condition by sharing photos of your average meals with your dietician, nutritionist or wellness coach

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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