- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Hypertension - High Blood Pressure - Can be reduced by Diet
High Blood Pressure
Around 30% of people in the UK have high blood pressure and don't realise it, if left untreated it can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
The problem is that there is no way of knowing you have it, as there are no symptoms and can go undetected for years, the best way to find out is to have a blood pressure test with your doctor, at least every 5 years.
When the pressure is too high it puts a stain on your arteries and heart, then in turn can cause heart attack, stroke or kidney disease.
People at risk are those who are overweight and don't do enough exercise, but it can also be an inherited disease.
People who eat too much salt and drink too much alcohol also have increased risk of getting high blood pressure.
Diet is vitally important in preventing and reducing high blood pressure
The right diet combined with exercise can reduce a person getting hypertension dramatically, a small amount of weight loss will be extremely beneficial to anyone with high blood pressure, and keeping their weight at a correct level and exercising is worth a great deal to everyone
DASH - Diet
The DASH diet is a study carried out in America, by the American Heart Association and the National Cancer Institute.
DASH = Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
The diet is for anyone with normal to high blood pressure, it is not really a diet but an overall eating plan that researchers found in 8 weeks of following the plan the people who took part saw their blood pressure reduce significantly
The plan focuses on what you can eat, not what you can not.
It is a plan that includes lots of fruit, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and low-fat dairy. Reducing sodium (salt), fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, while increasing levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium.
It is important to note that a potassium supplement will not be good enough, the potassium has to come from the food you are eating for you to see the full benefits.
This plan is a life long plan and not a quick fix, if you go back to eating salty, fatty foods again the hypertension will increase.
This is not a difficult diet to follow and it is mainly sensible eating, but targeting reducing the blood pressure and therefore reducing the risks that come with it. Anyone can benefit from this plan it is a good plan for a whole family and it will teach you to eat well and eat healthy. It just takes a bit of thought when buying and preparing food.
What should you eat?
Before I tell you what you can eat you need to know what a portion is.
A Cup - is 250 milliliters
1oz - 28.35 grams
A piece of fruit is one portion
1 tablespoon of butter or oil is a portion
2 tablespoons of low fat dressing
How to go about the plan
You can eat anything, it is just being a bit more aware of what you do eat every day and taking a bit of time to think and plan.
Low fat at all times and of course low salt if eating in a restaurant or buying tinned vegetables
Limit your alcohol intake to 2 units for a man or less and 1 unit for a woman or less daily.
Never binge drink, this will put extra pressure on your system and is not good for anyone.
The plan is adjusting how you cook, and what you eat. Do not butter your bread. Steam or grill meat and fish, don't fry, and don't add salt to your food at the table
Always read the labels and check for salt content, always try to buy fresh fruit and vegetables or frozen can be just as good.
Try to exercise every day to get your blood circulating, go for a walk, or a bike ride, don't take the car if going to the shops, walk to work if you can. Try to get outside in the fresh air for about at least half an hour a day, and you will soon see a difference in the way you feel, exercise is as important as eating the right foods.
How to reduce the salt in your diet
Limit cured food such as bacon and ham to as little as possible.
Limit, Soy sauce, ketchup and barbecue sauce
Do not have salt on the dining table, and if possible flavour with herbs or spices instead
Lemon or lime squeezed over salad as a dressing is a nice low calorie way to dress your salad
Don't choose anything in brine such as tinned fish or olives
Check the nutrition label for the salt content and try to choose the item with the least salt in it.
Cut out crisps, snack on a few nuts or an apple instead, you will soon get used to it and feel better for it.
How to increase potassium in your diet
Increase food such as banana's, potatoes, mushrooms,Swiss chard, white beans, yam, coriander, red and white cabbage these are all good sources of potassium. Lima beans and spinach are excellent sources of potassium
It is surprising how much you can change your diet and it will not cost any more, it is really just adjusting your eating habits. The list of potassium rich food is varied so you will have no problem finding something you like.
The table below helps you to plan out how many portions you should have in a day. If you need to loose weight then just reduce your portion size but try to include each food group every week. Fish is a really good source of protein and nutrients.
The Portion Amounts Daily
Significant Food Group
Type of food
Grains and grain products
Carbohydrates and fibre
Whole meal bread, rice, pasta, cereals
Potassium, magnesium & fibre
Peas, carrots, sweet potato, potato, lima beans
Potassium, Magnesium & fibre
Banana's, apples, apricots
Low-fat milk products
Calcium, protein, potassium and magnesium
Low fat yoghurt, skimmed milk
Meat, poultry & fish
Protein and magnesium
Lean chicken, lean beef, cod
Nuts, seeds and beans
4-5 a week
Magnesium, potassium, protein & fibre
Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts
Fats and oils
Olive oil, corn oil, low fat dressings
Tuna Pita Pockets
This recipe shows you how easy it is to eat a healthy lunch for the whole family, I used canned tuna in water. Tuna is a good source of low fat protein, it also has iron, magnesium vitamin B-12, B6, calcium and selenium.
Tomatoes are good sources of potassium and vitamin C
Green peppers are rich in vitamin C, also contain vitamin A and potassium.
This is a quick and easy recipe that is really nutritious and low in fat, but won't leave you hungry.
Rate this recipe
- 1 and a half cups Lettuce, Shredded
- 6 Tomatoes, Chopped
- 1 Green pepper, Chopped
- 2 Carrots, Grated
- 1 Onion, Chopped
- 2 small cans Tuna in water, drained
- Low fat dressing
- 6 Whole-wheat pita pockets
- In a large bowl put all the salad ingredients and toss to mix together
- In a smaller bowl put in the tuna and the low fat dressing, mix well and break up the tuna
- Add the tuna to the salad and mix together to combine
- Scoop the mixture into the pita pockets and serve
To start with jot down what you are eating and be more mindful of what you put in your body. This plan, is life long, so it needs to become a habit, you don't want a rush into it, take it easy at first if it is a huge change.
When you have made a few notes about what you are eating, then think about how you can change your habits.
Then make the changes and stick to them, you will find food that you enjoy and your taste will change, you will notice the amount of sweet or salt in foods, when you reduce it and get used to it. Also drink plenty of water to flush out your system, we do tend not to drink enough for our bodies really.
Most of all, the food you are eating should be fresh and enjoyable, not just something you eat because you are hungry, picking up anything pre-made. You have got time to do it yourself, and you will start to enjoy planning tasty nutritious meals for you and your family. This plan is for everyone, everyone in the family can benefit from eating a healthy diet and getting out in the fresh air.
- Mayo Clinic
This link is a great place for DASH recipes, and it has a lot of information on the diet plan too
© 2013 Lavender Jade