A healthy diet is a key element in fighting high blood pressure, particularly the DASH diet. Read on to find out more.
What causes high blood pressure?
High blood pressure usually occurs without prior symptoms. If we do not go to the doctors often to check our blood pressure, years can go by without us knowing that we have it. However, high blood pressure is dangerous because it is the most important risk factor for strokes (CVAs).
- It is also a major risk factor for heart attacks, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction and even blindness.
- Age, stress and certain foods contribute to raised blood pressure.
Eating well to lower blood pressure
One of the simplest ways to lower blood pressure is to eat more fruit and vegetables and less fast food, junk food and processed food.
- By eating healthily, we can increase how many key nutrients we absorb, such as magnesium, potassium and calcium, which all lower blood pressure, and lower sodium absorption, which increases blood pressure.
- When blood pressure returns to normal, the risks of stroke and heart attack decrease by 40 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.
The DASH diet
Following the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), blood pressure can be lowered by 5.5/3 mmHg (millimetres of mercury), which is sufficient to reduce the risk of heart disease by 15 per cent and that of stroke by 27 per cent.
- If, on top of following this diet, you also limit your salt intake to less than one teaspoon per day, blood pressure can drop by 8.9/4.5 mmHg, a result comparable to using blood pressure medication.
What is the DASH diet?
- Eat six to eight servings per day. A serving is one slice of bread or 110-125 grams (half a cup) of rice, pasta or cereals.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Eat four to five servings per day.
- A serving is 110-125 grams (half a cup) of chopped fruit or cooked vegetables, 200-250 grams (one cup) leafy vegetables, fifty grams (a quarter cup) dried fruit or 125-175 millilitres (from half to three-quarters cup) of fruit or vegetable juice.
Low-fat dairy products
- Eat two or three servings a day. A serving is 250 mL (one cup) of milk or yogurt.
Lean meat, poultry and fish
- Servings: 175 grams (six ounces) per day.
Nuts, seeds and legumes
- Servings: Four to five servings a week.
- A serving is 110-125 grams (half a cup) of beans or 30 grams (two tablespoons) of peanut butter.
Sugar and sweets
- Eat fewer than five servings a week.
- A serving is 15 grams (one tablespoon) of sugar or jam or 110-125 grams (half a cup) of sorbet.
All in all, the DASH diet can help relieve the symptoms of high blood pressure.