Has your doctor told you that you have high blood pressure? Hypertension (or, elevated blood pressure) is estimated to impact 1.13 billion people around the world. Although genetics can play a role, some of the most common risk factors for developing high blood pressure can be linked back to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.
Unfortunately, when hypertension is left uncontrolled, it can cause damage to the heart. In turn, this can lead to a heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. The good thing is - in many cases, high blood pressure can be controlled through a healthy diet and lifestyle!
Here are some of the ways that you can lower blood pressure through food and a healthy lifestyle:
Watch your Sodium Intake
Too much salt (sodium) in the diet causes an imbalance in the salt throughout the body. In turn, more water is pulled into your bloodstream to manage the salt, which adds extra fluid and strain on your blood vessels. In turn, this causes your blood pressure to rise.
Here are some of the ways that you can reduce salt in your diet:
- Limit packaged and processed foods like frozen meals, canned soups or cold cuts/packaged meats. Food manufacturers tend to add lots of salt to these foods for taste and preservation. If you are choosing a packaged food, look for one that is “low in sodium” or has “reduced salt”.
- Limit the salt you’re adding to your own food. Although salt added at the table isn’t usually the biggest contributor of salt in the diet, it’s still important to stay mindful of how much is being added. Instead of salt, flavour your foods with salt-free spices and herbs.
Following the DASH Eating Plan
The DASH eating plan is a flexible plan that emphasizes healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while limiting foods high in saturated fats and added sugars. The eating plan is balanced, without requiring you to eliminate any of your favourite foods - it’s all about moderation! Studies have shown that the DASH eating plan is successful in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
The eating plan includes daily servings of whole grains, lean meats, poultry and fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products. The eating plan also focuses on reducing sodium to <2300mg per day which, as mentioned above, is one of the biggest contributors to high blood pressure.
We work hard to ensure that our meals are filled with fresh ingredients that are full of flavour and high in important vitamins, minerals and nutrients to promote heart health.
Follow a Heart Healthy Lifestyle
Aside from food, other healthy lifestyle behaviours which can reduce blood pressure include regular exercise, limiting alcohol and quitting smoking. Chronic stress can also contribute to high blood pressure. Working on stress management techniques, like relaxation, meditation or gratitude journaling can be helpful.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure and you’re unsure where to start, chat with your healthcare provider. They can provide you with suggestions for small, manageable changes that you can integrate into your daily routine to ensure long-term success.