Affecting millions worldwide, hypertension or high blood pressure is a common health condition nowadays. When the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries is higher than normal, it is called hypertension. The exact causes of this disorder are not known but lifestyle factors like smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, excessive salt intake and alcohol consumption are major contributors to this disease.
Left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems like heart attack and stroke. An estimated 2.6 lakh Indians die each year due to this condition. The shocking thing about hypertension is that most people affected by it don’t even know that they have this disease.
Hypertension is also called ‘the silent killer’ as most of the times there are no obvious symptoms. If you have frequent headaches, watery eyes and breathlessness get yourself checked as they are the only indications in the early stages of this condition.
Here are some dietary tips that you can follow to keep hypertension at bay:
- Reduce the intake of saturated fats, trans-fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. This means eating less fast food like burgers, pizzas and chips.
- Controlling salt intake is important as too much of it leads to fluid retention which in turn causes high BP. Limit your salt consumption to about 1 teaspoon a day.
- Get plenty of potassium as it balances excess sodium in your diet. Avocados, potatoes, bananas and leafy green vegetables like spinach are good sources of this mineral.
- Limit your alcohol intake as more of it can increase your blood pressure. Try to stick to about one drink a day.
- The DASH (Dietary Approaches against Hypertension) Eating Plan, recommended by US health experts is a great way to manage this condition. It recommends:
- Making vegetables, fruits and whole grains a part of the daily diet
- Consuming more low-fat dairy products like fish, poultry, beans & nuts
- Reducing the consumption of foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oils
- Limiting beverages with added sugar
- Avoid drinking too much tea, coffee or energy drinks as they contain caffeine which is known to raise BP.
- Quit smoking as it does no good to you and leads to a host of diseases including hypertension.
Healthy habits like exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight go a long way in keeping your BP normal. Try activities like Yoga and Tai Chi as they help in reducing stress levels. Most importantly, monitor your BP regularly and visit your doctor if the readings are on the higher side. This World Hypertension Day on May 17, let’s take a pledge together to fight this deadly disease by opting for healthier lifestyles and nutritious dietary choices.