Blood pressure is important for life. It is the force that maintains circulation of blood to all vital and working areas of the body. However, when the same pressure exceeds its normal limits, it can also cause various problems. Among these problems are brain bleeds, heart attacks and kidney failure. One of the best and earliest ways to bring your blood pressure under control is through your diet. Find out what food groups can help you achieve the optimum levels, and what to steer clear from.
Know what to avoid
Hypertension can arise from multiple sources and triggers. Your diet is important not only in its quantity, but also its composition. The following sources of food are best restricted if your blood pressure tends to rise frequently:
- Salt: The commonly used table salt contains high levels of sodium, one of the chief electrolytes in the blood. Numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between sodium levels and risk of hypertension. Current recommendations ask for restricting daily salt intake to less than 1.5 grams.
- Oil, ghee and butter: Saturated fats present in food derange not just your cholesterol levels, but spell doom for your blood pressure as well. Weight gain, especially around the waist, accelerate your risk of developing complications such as a heart attack. Limit the amount of fried food you have, and switch to healthier snacks.
- Coffee: If you need a daily caffeine eye-opener, we have some bad news. Coffee can actually cause temporary spikes in your blood pressure and could contribute towards hypertension.
- Alcohol: As per Mayo Clinic, having more than three drinks in one sitting can cause spikes in blood pressure. Repeat episodes will lead to long-standing effects. More importantly, alcohol can interfere with the absorption of any anti-hypertensive medication you are on.
- Sugar: Excess sugar intake can lead to drastic weight gain, thus indirectly leading to hypertension.
What sources of food are helpful?
- Fruits: Fruits, especially rich in potassium and magnesium such as bananas, can actually help lower your blood pressure. Berries are also very good for the same.
- Vegetables: Being a good source of fibre, vegetables help cut calories while restricting unhealthy fats. Potatoes, beetroot, carrots, squash and leafy green vegetables are all excellent.
- Whole grains: Good fibre and low in calorie, switch to wholegrain bread and cereal.
- Oatmeal: An excellent meal, it is high in fibre and low in calories while bringing down bad cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Skimmed and low fat dairy: Calcium obtained from these sources also help maintain a healthy range of BP.
- Nuts: 3-4 moderate servings weekly can provide healthy omega fatty acids, and also help achieve your target levels.