High Blood Pressure Diet

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Written by: Dr Poonam SachdevUpdated at: Jan 16, 2013 17:00 IST
High Blood Pressure Diet

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Good nutrition does not only provide you with energy to do your work, but helps to reduce the risk of several diseases. Do you know your diet influences your blood pressure--- what you eat can increase or help to reduce your BP?

In addition your eating habits influence your weight--if you are overweight or obese---weight loss can help you to lower your blood pressure. Studies have shown that high blood pressure is more common in obese or overweight individuals.

Simple dietary changes can a go a long way in reducing your blood pressure -- a proven risk for heart disease.


How does diet influence blood pressure?

Diet is known to influence your blood pressure---but the most important factor in your diet that influences blood pressure is salt. Decreasing salt in the diet can help to reduce blood pressure---studies have shown that the less sodium you eat, the better it is for your blood pressure control.

Salt reduction in diet is recommended along with blood pressure medications.

Other factors in your diet that may influence blood pressure include potassium, magnesium, and fiber.


How can I reduce salt in my diet?

You can reduce your salt or sodium intake by:

  • Reducing the amount of added salt in your diet--use spices and herbs such as parsley, oregano and basil leaves to make the food look and taste wonderful. Using these can help you to reduce the salt or fat that are needed to make food taste good. Consult your doctor before using salt substitutes (low-sodium salts).
  • Avoid foods that contain too much salt like pickles, chutneys, ketchups, salted nuts, salted breads, processed foods and crackers/biscuits.


DASH Diet for High Blood Pressure

The DASH diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is recommended to control blood pressure in people with hypertension. Research has shown that following DASH diet can help to reduce blood pressure.

In the DASH diet ---dietary sodium intake is reduced to less than 100 mmol per day (that is 2.4 g sodium or 6 g sodium chloride).

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension include:

  • Including plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and use of low-fat dairy foods
  • Decrease intake of foods with high content of saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat
  • Use of whole grain products like brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, barley, oatmeal
  • Eating leaner meat such as fish, chicken, or turkey. Limit intake of meat, red meat and sweets
  • Eating foods that contain magnesium, potassium, and calcium like nuts and seeds, pulses, lean meat


Is the DASH Diet effective for lowering high blood pressure?

Research has shown that following DASH diet can help to reduce blood pressure. Dietary sodium reduction can help to reduce systolic blood pressure by 2–8 mmHg according to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee after just a few weeks.

In the DASH-Sodium diet-- sodium (salt) is reduced in the diet to 1,500 mg in a day (about 2/3 teaspoon). This diet has also been observed to significantly reduce blood pressure and results in even greater blood-pressure-lowering benefits.

Experts recommend that adults should not consume more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day.


How to start DASH diet eating plan?

The DASH diet recommends certain dietary changes and including certain number of servings daily from major food groups. The number of servings that you need depends on your calorie requirement. Experts recommend gradual changes in diet. Like decrease the salt in your diet to 2,400 milligrams per day (about 1 teaspoon). After you get used to it you can further lower your salt intake to 1,500 mg per day (about 2/3 te...