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How to manage Hypertension through proper diet

What is Blood Pressure ?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Each time the heart beats (about 60-70 times a minute at rest), it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is at its highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood.

Most adults in the India have blood pressure readings in the range from 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90). If your blood pressure is within this range, you should be taking steps to bring it down or to stop it rising any further.

Dietary Management

The current nutritional therapy focuses on weight management, sodium control and general nutrient balance.

Objectives of Diet therapy are:

To achieve the above objectives, the prudent diet is further modified as below.

Diet and Feeding Pattern

As low energy diets are essentially low fat diets, the quantity of fat should be reduced. The diet has to be modified so as to raise the PUFA/SFA ratio to 1 or above. To achieve this, saturated fats  should be substituted with polyunsaturated fats.

The diet for hypertensive patients is essentially a normal diet. The major modification is in the salt or sodium content. As no salt is to be used in cooking, the main aim in food preparation is to make it palatable by the use of alternate seasonings.

Good food sources of potassium should be included in the diet, especially for patients who are on drug therapy with diuretics. Some of the foods that are high in potassium but low in sodium are squashes, bananas, apricots and legumes, which can be included in the diet.

Sodium Restricted Diets

Major Sources of Sodium in Diet

Common salt, meat, fish, poultry, egg white, pickled vegetable, meat, fish, dry fish, canned vegetable, baked item, certain green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek leaves etc.

Low Sodium food resources : Fruits, unsalted cereals, unsalted butter, oil, sugar, puffed rice, broccoli, unsalted popcorn, cucumber, chickpeas etc.

Other Sodium containing compounds : Baking powder, baking soda, MSG, sodium acetate, drinking water which is softened alkalizes, laxatives, sedatives etc.

Salt substitutes : Meat and fish may be marinated in vinegar, low French dressing, lime juice before cooking. low sodium baking powder, unsalted butter in moderation, sugar, cinnamons, tamarind extract, herbs, spices, onion, garlic etc.

Points to keep in mind when having high BP

Food to avoid

Cooking salt, baking powder, soda bicarb, canned foods, cheese all varieties, sausages, pickles, commercial salad dressings and soft drinks containing sodium benzoate, soup cubes, proprietary drinks, bournvita and chocolate drinks, dehydrated and pre packed meals like ready to eat meals.