Ready-to-eat, fast or semi-cooked foods that are aimed to save time are gaining more popularity. More and more of us tend to grab fast foods or ready-to-cook foods due to their attractive feature of being convenient. However, even though they claim to be healthy, these ready-to-eat or semi-cooked foods are high in sodium/salt.
You must embrace healthy living habits if you struggle with high blood pressure levels. A speedy way to reduce high blood pressure is to reduce salt intake. Yes, revamping the long-accustomed habit of eating salty foods will be effortful. And with patience and understanding of how badly it will affect your health, it won’t take long to attain freedom from the clutches of high blood pressure.
Based on your age, gender, and condition, you can design a diet to combat or treat high blood pressure. For instance, low sodium intake, reduced saturated fat, refined sugar, and increased physical activity helps fight this condition. This article provides guidance and resources for a practical approach to managing blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure Diet: An Overview
High blood pressure or hypertension is when your blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Many dietary interventions to manage hypertension come under the premise of the DASH eating plan. It emphasises foods high in blood pressure-deflating nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fibre. A high blood pressure diet discourages foods high in saturated fat, including sugar-sweetened beverages, tropical oils, full-fat dairy foods, and fatty meats. Most of us, including those with and without high blood pressure, can follow a low-sodium diet for significant health improvements.
The HealthifyMe Note
Starting a high blood pressure diet doesn’t mean making drastic changes overnight. Instead, begin by making small changes that are manageable to you. For example, lowering your salt intake. Your taste buds will eventually adjust to the low-salt diet. In addition, you’ll likely lose weight on most high-blood pressure diets, provided you follow the rules and design your plan with a calorie deficit.
Recommendations for a High Blood Pressure Diet
Plant-based foods should make up the bulk of your plate if you are one of the many people managing high blood pressure. Ultra-processed foods might be the shining stars for your taste buds, but the added sugars and salt are unavoidable red flags. While no single food can lower your blood pressure, a healthy eating plan that incorporates all of the necessary food groups can help. You can start your journey by consulting HealthifyMe’s personal coaches to bring the change you wish for.
Foods to Eat
- Dairy products: You can include low-fat, skimmed, greek yoghurt, unsweetened dairy products and double-toned milk. Smoothies without sugar made out of these are also acceptable. Individuals with lactose intolerance can opt for unsweetened soy/almond milk, yoghurt, etc.
- Pulses: Masoor dal, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans.
- Vegetables: All fresh vegetables, leafy and non-leafy– spinach, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, mushroom, cucumber, okra, eggplant, and non-starchy options.
- Cereals and grains: Whole wheat flour, millet, brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley.
- Oil and fats: Olive oil, groundnut oil, coconut oil, mustard oil, sesame oil, flax oil (Especially cold pressed and in moderation)
- Nuts and seeds: All types and varieties are allowed as long as you consume them in moderation.
- Non-veg: Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, chicken (unprocessed and opt for healthy ways of cooking).
- Egg: White portion only in the case of severe blood pressure.
- Fruits: Green apples, apricot, avocadoes, blackberries, cherries, oranges, peaches, papaya, kiwi, watermelon, pomegranate, guava, pears, prunes, and sweet lime.
Foods to Avoid
Too many calories and exceeding your recommended daily calorie intake are bad for your blood pressure. Highly processed and fried foods containing saturated fats and salt dramatically increase calorie intake, causing your blood pressure to go berserk. It happens because too many calories cause weight gain, and excess weight inevitably impacts your blood pressure levels. Foods high in salt but low in potassium and other needed minerals are a particularly bad combination for blood pressure diets.
These foods may raise your blood pressure:
- Dairy products: Exclude ice creams, chocolate milk, sweetened yoghurts, cheese, full-fat cow’s or buffalo’s milk, and products made from them.
- Pulses: Fried daal products, Bhujias, and fried besan items.
- Vegetables: Avoid canned vegetables.
- Cereals and grains: Avoid all processed maida products.
- Oils and fats: Salted butter, lard, margarine, mayonnaise.
- Nuts: Avoid salted, fried nuts.
- Non-veg: Fish roe, shellfish, crab, dried fish, tinned fish, shark, swordfish, prawn, hilsa, red meat, organ meat, processed meat products.
High Blood pressure Diet: Sample Meal Plan Options
The main focus of every meal in a high blood pressure diet is to keep the sodium level to a minimum, including more lean protein and fewer added sugars.
Here are some meal options for a high-blood-pressure diet:
- Vegetable oats porridge with low-fat milk/curd.
- Vegetable sprouts semolina upma with walnuts.
- Omelette (2 egg whites), plant-based milk, and 4-5 almonds.
- Roasted oats upma with a glass of toned milk.
- Sprouts salad.
- Whole fruit ( medium size pear, orange, kiwi, apple, guava).
- Boiled green gram sprouts with lemon.
- Baked chicken and cucumber lettuce wraps and plain yoghurt.
- Lentil soup, avocado toast and steamed broccoli.
- 2-3 roti with bitter gourd sabzi and dal.
- 1 cup brown rice with grilled/stewed fish or rajma curry and cucumber carrot salad,
- Unsalted nuts.
- Banana/apple walnut with plain yoghurt.
- Unsalted popcorn.
- Sweet potato salad and green tea.
- Tofu salad and beetroot soup.
- Baked chicken with grilled vegetables.
- Three multigrain roti with cabbage/spinach sabzi and dal.
- Vegetable salad with two roti (methi/onion/carrot/lauki), and dal/curd.
Tips to Note
In addition to a high blood pressure diet, there are other strategies to help decrease your blood pressure. Regular exercise, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity workout per week, is one of the best things you can do to lower blood pressure. You can start with a daily walk and gradually build up on this.
Other tips you can follow are:
- Studies have shown limiting alcohol to less than one drink per day can lower blood pressure. Quitting alcohol altogether helps to improve blood pressure, heart, liver and overall health.
- Smoking increases blood pressure. Hence, stopping it will reduce your blood pressure and improve your overall health.
- Fasting can be beneficial in lowering high blood pressure. You can try intermittent fasting with an 8-hour eating window while fasting for 16 hours. One can start with a 10-12 hours fasting window.
- Stress is an important candidate that contributes to high blood pressure. Therefore, make time to relax, avoid stress triggers and focus on how you can control and solve your issues.
- Being overweight or obese contributes to high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle and modifications can help with weight loss which could then help with lowering blood pressure. In addition, physical activities such as cycling, swimming, and jogging help maintain a healthy weight.
- Consult a doctor about possible food-drug interactions before changing your diet.
The HealthifyMe Note
In addition to following a healthy diet chart that includes food items with less salt, you should exercise regularly and take prescribed medications to lower blood pressure. By watching portions and reading food labels to help reduce your sodium intake, you can go one step closer to managing your blood pressure.
It’s essential to understand what’s best for your body, and you can only achieve so with the right advice from a dietician. Dieticians always recommend a balanced diet with the appropriate adjustments as per your unique demands.
Making poor food choices, putting on extra weight, stress, and having a weak gut can all contribute to high blood pressure. However, eating a balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains is the key to preventing and treating this condition. In addition, to maintain appropriate blood pressure levels and overall well-being, you need to pay attention to lifestyle habits, exercise, and mental well-being.