- World Hypertension Day is observed on 17 May
- This day tries to create awareness about this condition
- A healthy diet can help regulate your blood pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is due to the high force exerted by blood against the walls of the artery. Uncontrolled high blood pressure for a while can cause harm to several organs like the kidney (chronic kidney disease, nephropathy), heart (cardiovascular disease risk), eye (retinopathy), brain (stoke), nerves (neuropathy) and can be dangerous during pregnancy (pregnancy induced hypertension).
World Hypertension Day 2021: Here's what you should do for healthy blood pressure numbers
Hypertension can be caused due to faulty dietary habits, poor lifestyle or secondary to a disease, for example, diabetes. Adding extra salt to food preparations on a daily basis daily can lead to water retention in the body, thus increasing the pressure of blood. But one needs to understand that it's not only the visible salt but also the invisible salt intake that matters and should keep a check on those foods as well like-
- Pickles and papad
- Frozen and ready to eat foods
- Bakery products like bread, biscuits, khari
- Sauces, salted seasonings
- Packaged foods
Similarly, foods high in saturated fats lead to the build-up of fat in the arteries due to which blood exerts higher pressure to pass through it. Hence to limit the intake of oily and fried foods in the diet.
Including foods low in salt and cholesterol according to the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) such as
- Whole grains (whole wheat, millets like ragi, jowar, bajra)
- Fresh vegetables (like beetroot or green leafy vegetables) and fruits
- Low-fat dairy products
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Including regular physical activity for 30-60min will help manage high blood pressure
Common myths you should stop believing-
Myth 1: Using sea salt, black salt, pink salt other than table salt will help manage high BP.
Irrespective of the variety, chemically all salts are the same. They contain sodium that should be consumed moderately.
Myth 3: Red wine is good for heart health
It is important to avoid excess alcohol in general as it affects Blood Pressure.
Myth 4: Complete elimination of salt in diet
Limitation and not elimination is important. It is important to check for sodium or salt in ready-to-eat packaged and processed food items.
Making a lifestyle change rather than using quick fixes will help control high blood pressure-
1. Read food labels: It is important to be aware of the amount of sodium or salt present in the packaged food
2. Include fibre rich foods in the diet like whole grains, cereals, millets, fresh fruits, vegetables and pulses
3. Include foods like fish, egg and poultry as they contain vitamin B12 that helps reduce blood pressure
4. Nuts like - walnuts or almonds, ginger, beetroots, pomegranate, citrus fruits contain Arginine (an amino acid) which are precursors for nitric oxide a potent vasodilator
5. Kalonji (Nigella Sativa), barley water, cranberry juice, coriander seeds act as natural diuretics by flushing out the excess water retained in the body
6. Reduce the amount of salt in the diet by using lemon juice, tamarind pulp, onion powder, garlic powder and amchoor (dry mango powder) to flavour the food preparations
7. Include some form of physical activity daily (walking, running, swimming, dancing, aerobics etc.)
Thus, it is important to manage hypertension at an early stage by modifying lifestyle to prevent its complications in future.
(Bhakti Samant, Chief Dietician, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital)
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