High blood pressure or hypertension is a global concern because of its wide prevalence. If not attended to in time, it can lead to severe complications like a heart attack or a stroke which can turn fatal.
Hypertension is referred to as a silent killer because you can live with it for years even without knowing, as its symptoms are likely to go unnoticed by you.
Table of Content
A report of the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that the proliferation of processed food industry has influenced the extensive prevalence in people with hypertension. This is attributed to the alarming increase of salts in processed and packaged foods worldwide.
On the bright side, high blood pressure can be managed better by choosing healthier foods. In this article, we will bring all about the infamous blood pressure and certain foods to reduce blood pressure.
What is high blood pressure or hypertension?
Blood pressure is referred to as the pressure of the blood exerted on your artery walls. The normal pressure is measured as 120 over 80 mm of mercury (mmHg), and when your reading is over 130 over 80 mmHg, you are considered to be suffering from high blood pressure.
Causes of high blood pressure:
Many factors like age, lifestyle, family history, gender, and race, which are beyond your control, can increase your risk of blood pressure/hypertension. You can, however, control hypertension by exercise and eating a diet rich in potassium, magnesium, fibre and less sodium.
Hypertension is broadly classified into two types
- Genetic: The condition is inherited.
- Physical: Changes in the body due to ageing cause imbalance in salts and fluids.
- Environment: Induced by a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits.
It can appear on its own or due to some underlying medical condition and diseases.
The contributory factors for hypertension are:
- Kidney disease
- Inborn heart defects
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Thyroid malfunction
Symptoms of high blood pressure:
High blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer with no discernible symptoms to alarm you. It remains undetected for long and can damage your cardiovascular system and kidney.
It is advised that you keep a regular check on your pressure measurement. Sometimes, it is suggested that hypertension may cause sweating, anxiety or disturbed sleep. In extreme cases, it can cause severe headaches and nose bleeding.
Treatment of high blood pressure:
The first step towards the management of hypertension is to monitor your blood pressure regularly. The best way to counter it is through your diet.
Eat foods that reduce blood pressure. Apart from modifying diet, the usual methods to manage it are:
- Regular physical exercises for at least 30 minutes per day.
- Avoid stress and devise strategies to counter situations that cause stress.
- Maintain healthy body weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Medications prescribed by a doctor.
8 Foods to reduce blood pressure:
You are often faced with a situation of how to lower high blood pressure. A suitable change in your diet is one of the best home remedies for high blood pressure that works.
Here are a few easily available foods to reduce blood pressure.
- Leafy greens: The potassium-rich leafy greens lower your blood pressure as they help your kidneys to excrete excess sodium through urine. Spinach, kale, turnip greens, beet greens should be high in your diet.
- Garlic and herbs: The increase in nitric oxide in the body is attributed to the use of garlic. Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator reducing the pressure in your arteries. Addition of herbs and spices like basil, cinnamon, thyme, and rosemary in your diet helps to cut down on your salt intake. This helps to reduce blood pressure.
- Skim milk and yoghurt: It is calcium-rich and also, low in fats. These factors make this food ideal for reducing blood pressure.
- Oatmeal:The low-fat, low-salt and high-fibre contents of oatmeal are a sure way to reduce your blood pressure. These properties make oatmeal an ideal breakfast option.
- Bananas: Eating bananas gives you the best of potassium to lower your blood pressure.
- Fish with omega-3: The primary source of lean protein in our diet is fish. Salmon and Mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids which lower not only your blood pressure but also lower triglycerides and inflammation. Other fishes like Trout contain Vitamin-D that can reduce blood pressure too.
- Olive Oil: If you want to know how to reduce high blood pressure with healthy fat, olive oil is your answer. Polyphenol in it is an inflammation-fighting compound that helps reduce blood pressure.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is shown to manage and reduce high blood pressure effectively. It is a therapeutic diet, recommended by the U.S. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). This flexible and well-balanced diet is specially designed for people with hypertension.
It aims to:
- Lower high blood pressure
- Improve the level of fat in the bloodstream
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
The DASH diet advocates adequate fruits and vegetables in every meal that must also contain high-fibre foods such as nuts, beans, and whole grains.
Mere knowledge of what food to eat and how to reduce blood pressure is not enough to benefit fully from its intake. You have to devise a fruitful strategy to prevent and manage hypertension. A smart strategy is to fill up half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables have fewer calories are loaded with potassium, fibre, antioxidants and a range of other nutrients while offsetting the effects of sodium. The cardinal point to remember is that if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should not deprive yourself of food, but eat smartly to keep yourself healthy.
It is also important to know what foods you should avoid to reduce blood pressure. You should keep away from:
- Salt: Reduce your intake of salt, and at times, it may be necessary to eat salt-free diet.
- Processed meat and food: These can be described as sodium trap because of its excess sodium content.
- Pickles: The excess of preservative in the form of salt makes this food unsuitable for a high blood pressure diet.
- Packaged food: Ketchup, sauces, and other foods are a strict no-no.
The best way to counter high blood pressure is to be informed about the disease. Next comes the diet part. It is very essential to know about the foods that help to reduce blood pressure.
A long-term strategy and the adoption of healthy habits towards your food and lifestyle is an effective way to counter hypertension or high blood pressure.
Remember, nutritious eating is not just a healthy habit; it is a way of life. Eat wholesome foods, lead a healthier life.