Limit Salt intake: Diet for Hypertension and Heart Health
As per a research conducted by the University of California, reducing 3 grams of intake of salt, could ward off 99000 heart attacks, 66000 strokes, and 92000 deaths, and can save up to $24 billion spent on health and medical care, each year. Though salt is an integral component of our diet, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disorders. Simple dietary tips can help keep your heart healthy.
Why to Limit Salt Intake?
Salt is responsible for elevation of blood pressure levels, which in turn is responsible for a wide range of cardio-vascular disorders. Assessment reveals that about 80 % of salt intake comes from processed food. The assessment stated that men on an average consume 10.4 grams of salt each day as compared to their female counterparts who consume approximately 7.3 grams of salt each day. The study also indicated that life style and dietary factors are responsible for the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases amongst young adults; and sodium restriction is the key to preventing hypertension and heart diseases.
Dietary Guidelines to control blood pressure: Diet for Hypertension
A special eating plan referred to as Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, is recommended to patients with elevated blood pressure. Besides limiting the intake of salt, which is crucial, there are other essential guidelines that need to be followed as well:
- Increase your intake of whole grains, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. These are rich in nutrients and help reduce the detrimental impact of processed and canned food. Fruits like avocado are considered to prevent atherosclerosis and have a protective action on the heart.
- Increase your intake of low fat dairy products. Controlling the intake of saturated fats and cholesterol can aid in lowering blood pressure significantly.
- Reduce the intake of stimulants like alcohol and caffeine. Smoking is also considered to be deterimental for health and should be avoided.Though the role of these stimulants in increasing blood pressure is not known clearly, restricting their intake is vital to reducing blood pressure levels.
- Studies have shown that calcium supplements can also be beneficial in reducing blood pressure. Dietary calcium can be obtained from food sources like milk and dairy products, green leafy vegetables, and fish.
Diet to improve Heart Health
In addition to controlling blood pressure, there are other essential dietary recommendations to improve overall cardiac health. These include:
- Ensure an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Fats containing omega-3 fatty acids are considered to be 'good fats' which help reduce one's risk of developing atherosclerosis and also prevents a host of other cardiac ailments.
- Olive oil is considered beneficial. Cook food in olive oil instead of other cooking oils.
- Increase fiber content in your diet. Psyllium helps in improving digestive abilities of the intestine and also reduces the absorption of fats and facilitates weight loss.
- Fish, Flaxseeds, and walnuts are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids; include them in the everyday diet.
- Limit the intake of trans fats, saturated fats and hydrogenated fats.