Your Daily Food Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure
There's absolutely no doubt that what you eat affects your chance of getting high blood pressure, and that eating a healthy diet can both reduce your risk, and lower an already high blood pressure.
A healthy diet that helps to lower blood pressure is one which follows heart healthy guidelines to limit saturated fat and cholesterol, and increase the intake of foods rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, protein, and fiber.
Enter the he DASH eating plan, which stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension!"
If you're unsure whether your current eating is up to scratch, try keeping a food diary for a few days. Note down what you eat, how much, when, where and any emotions that surround the meal or snack. Also, notice if you eat large portions, snack on high-fat foods, or if you skip meals often. This will help you to identify any areas you may need to work on.
The info below lists the number of servings recommended by the DASH diet for each day, and also gives examples of typical serving sizes. Use this as a guide to help you choose food in the correct proportions.
Please note: this example is based on 2,000 calories per day, and is merely intended as an example. The number of daily servings in each food group will vary depending on your individual calorie needs, so do take this into consideration, especially if you are trying to lose weight (you may need to cut back on grains for example).
Grains (7-8 servings/day) e.g. 1 slice bread, 1 cup cereal, 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, other grains.
Vegetables (4-5 servings/day) e.g. 1 cup raw leafy vegetable, 1/2 cup cooked vegetable, 3/4 cup vegetable juice.
Fruit (4-5 servings/day) e.g. 1 medium fruit, 2 small fruits, 1 heaped tablespoon dried fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, 3/4 cup fruit juice.
Low fat dairy (2-3 servings/day) e.g. 1 cup milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1 1/2 ounces cheese.
Lean meat, poultry, fish (2 or less/day) e.g 3 ounces cooked lean meat, skinless poultry, or fish.
Nuts, seeds, dry beans (4-5/week) e.g. 1 1/2 ounces nuts, 1 tablespoon seeds, 1/2 cup cooked dry beans, peas, lentils.
Fats and oils (2-3 servings/day) e.g. 1 teaspoon soft margarine, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons light salad dressing.
Sweets (5 servings/week) e.g. 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 tablespoon jelly or jam, 3 jelly sweets, 160mls of sugary drink.
It's recommended that our sodium intake should not be more than 2.4 grams (2,400 milligrams) per day. This is equal to 6 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of table salt, and includes all salt and sodium you take in, including that used in cooking and at the table.
Ways to lower you sodium intake:
- Buy "no added salt or "salt reduced" products where possible
- Avoid highly processed foods in favor of fresh produce
- Rinse canned foods under water (where appropriate) to remove most of the sodium
- Flavor your food with herbs, spices, pepper, garlic, onions, and ginger