There are consistent, dedicated, patient and preserving people, and then there are those who like to get to the finish line in an easy way. Lowering blood pressure is not something you should take for granted, and expect quick results.
Truth be told, there are those that have moderate symptoms and those who have severe symptoms of high blood pressure. The trick to lowering blood pressure is to combine several aspects of your life, all of which contribute to lowering blood pressure. Diet is only one piece of the puzzle, but albeit, the most important one.
Now, for those who are consistent and like to be on a strict diet, you can try the DASH diet or Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension.
With the DASH diet, you get a specific eating plan, where the choices are clearly spelled out and you must follow it strictly. The other option is to include some choices from the DASH diet, and incorporate healthy nutrients that help lower your blood pressure.
What to Avoid?
Every diet commands you to avoid some foods and incorporate others. When it comes to a high blood pressure diet, there are certain foods you must avoid. Foods with high amounts of salt, sodium and fat rapidly increase your blood pressure, to the point you start feeling dizziness, headaches and you will probably faint.
One of the questions people ask me is how can they lower sodium? For some people, it looks like a science fiction. In reality, it is an easy and simple task.
To lower sodium in your daily diet, you need to keep track of the foods you eat and the salt. This is the first step. The next step is to aim for less than 2300 mg of salt per day or about one teaspoon. When you are grocery shopping, look for foods that have 5% or less of the daily recommended dose of sodium.
As a general rule of thumb, always avoid canned foods, lunch meats, fast food, processed foods and foods that have 20% or more of the daily dose of sodium. The single biggest salt and sodium addition is seasonings, so try to keep your seasonings salt-free. Or, use healthier salt types for cooking.
What to Eat?
If you are not strictly following the DASH diet, you need to look for foods that are high in potassium, high in magnesium, and high in fiber. All of those ingredients will help you lower your blood pressure and keep it at bay. Fruits and vegetables, as you might assume, are the two best food categories you can consume. Also, look for nuts, legumes, seeds and lean meats.
If you need more recommendation, here are some foods you should include in your daily diet: apples, apricots, bananas, dates, grapes, oranges, peaches, strawberries, tangerines, raisins, mangoes, melons, broccoli, carrots, beets, kale, lima beans, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, tuna fish and fat free yogurt.
The DASH Diet
Now, if you want to follow the strict DASH diet as a high blood pressure diet, you should better be prepared for the sacrifices you will have to make. The DASH diet has been proven effective by several studies and has since been used not only for lowering blood pressure but for losing weight as well.
Fruits: 4-5 servings per day, with one serving including one medium piece of fruit, ¼ cup of dried fruits, or ½ cup of fresh fruits.
Vegetables: 4-5 servings per day, with one serving including 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, ½ cup of cooked vegetables, or 170ml or 6oz of vegetable juice (all hail the food processors).
Grains: 7-8 servings per day, one serving including 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of cereal or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta.
Low-Fat Foods: 2-3 servings per day, one serving including a glass of milk, a glass of yogurt or 50g of cheese.
Lean Meats: 2 servings or less, one serving being 3 ounces of skinless meat or one fish.
Nuts/Seeds and Beans: 4-5 servings per week, one serving including 1/3 cup of nuts, 2 tablespoons of seeds or ½ cup of beans.
As mentioned, high blood pressure diet is only one piece of the puzzle. There are other habits and lifestyle changes you need to make to lower your blood pressure. Just some quick tips:
- Limit or quit smoking
- Limit your alcohol to 5 glasses per week at max
- Be active for 30 minutes per day every day of the week
- Try to lose between 5 and 10 pounds