High blood pressure or hypertension cases across the world have almost doubled in the last three decades and continue to rise. Almost 30% of Indians are suffering from this condition which is often called a silent killer.
There are various factors that could be responsible for high BP including age, sex, heredity, obesity, inactive or sedentary lifestyle and very importantly the dietary factors.
High BP even without symptoms can cause damage to the blood vessels and organs like brain, heart, eyes and kidneys. Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, according to CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention). Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. High blood pressure means the elevated pressure is too much for your arteries and organs can handle.
It is important to regulate and monitor your blood pressure to prevent against heart and kidney diseases. One way of doing it naturally is to modify your diet and include foods that have a positive effect on your blood pressure.
Foods to avoid during high blood pressure
The most common question that people with high blood pressure ask their doctors is if they should eliminate salt from their food. “The answer is no. I don’t recommend you to stop having salt or the tongue savouring foods as there are other alternatives too. Like, using alternate seasonings which are not only low in sodium but also improve the palatability of your food. For example, use a variety of condiments, flavouring agents such as lemon, vinegar, herbs, tamarind extract, spices, onion, garlic etc. You just have to stop having ready to eat, high sodium foods and most importantly quit alcohol and smoking, says Dietitian Garima Goyal.
Here are other tips by Goyal:
Consume a sodium-restricted diet: Avoid using common salt, processed foods, baking powder and sodium bicarbonate.
Flavour enhancers such as monosodium glutamate ajinomoto should be restricted.
Processed cheese or butter should be a big ‘No’.
Highly salted foods like crackers, potato chips, salted nuts, salted popcorn, salted snacks should be avoided.
Foods that your tongue savours but that could make your blood vessels suffer should be restricted like ketchup, chilli sauce, garlic sauce, soya sauce, chutneys and pickles.
Animal meat should be controlled as it is high in sodium.
Dietician Garima Goyal also suggests 5 foods for controlling high blood pressure:
1. Citrus fruits
There is a whole variety that you can consume. You can have grapefruit, oranges and lemons as they are not only packed with vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and plant compounds but also have a lowering effect on your blood pressure. They also have low calories and no sodium.
2. Pumpkin seeds, chia and flax seeds
These wonder seeds pack a punch of nutrients like magnesium, potassium and arginine, and amino acid required for blood vessel relaxation and help maintain blood pressure.
3. Beans and lentils
They are a storehouse of fibre, magnesium and potassium. Research studies have shown the positive effect of consuming beans and lentils in reducing blood pressure levels. They are in fact helpful in keeping all lifestyle diseases at bay.
They are an all-in-one pack. Starting from their potential to reduce heart disease risk factors, to being a source of antioxidants. Berries be it blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are high on flavonoids and are must-eat fruits.
5. Spinach and broccoli
Green veggies have an incredible role in curtailing various metabolic diseases as they are loaded with antioxidants, potassium, calcium and magnesium making them an excellent choice for people with high blood pressure.
Apart from the dietary changes, one should include physical activities like walking and yoga to stay healthy and fit.