High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be difficult to detect because the majority of the time symptoms don’t show. The best way to find out if you have the condition is to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, either by your GP or pharmacist or using a blood pressure monitor at home. To prevent or reduce high blood pressure it’s important to eat a healthy diet. As a general rule, experts recommend cutting down on the amount of salt in your food and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
But when it comes to an overall diet to follow, which one is considered best?
The DASH diet is promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for people with high blood pressure, and in January 2017, the U.S. News & World Report ranked this time as the best for the seventh year in a row.
Research published in the journal Hypertension found after following the DASH diet for eight weeks, patients with pre-hypertension had an average drop of 6mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 3mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic pressure is the higher number on a blood pressure reading, indicating the force at which the heart pumps blood around the body.
The diastolic pressure is the lower number and indicates the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
As part of the research patients with hypertension experienced reductions of 11mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 6mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure.
The DASH diet arms to provide nutrients that can help reduce blood pressure.
It’s based on dietary patterns rather than single nutrients.
Research carried out before the launch of the DASH diet showed eating patterns can affect blood pressure patients with moderate to severe hypertension.
Within two weeks of starting the diet, participants experience a reduction in blood pressure.
The DASH diet includes the following food groups:
- Low factor or no-fat dairy foods
- Lean meats, poultry and fish
- Nuts, seeds and dry beans
- Fats and oils
The Mayo Clinic offers an example of a daily menu that follows the DASH diet.
1 store-bought (commercial) whole-wheat bagel with 2 tablespoons peanut butter (no salt added)
1 medium orange
1 cup fat-free milk
Spinach salad made with:
4 cups of fresh spinach leaves
1 sliced pear
1/2 cup canned mandarin orange sections
1/3 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette
12 reduced-sodium wheat crackers
1 cup fat-free milk
Herb-crusted baked cod, 3 ounces cooked (about 4 ounces raw)
1/2 cup brown rice pilaf with vegetables
1/2 cup fresh green beans, steamed
1 small sourdough roll
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup fresh berries with chopped mint
Herbal iced tea
1 cup fat-free, low-calorie yogurt
4 vanilla wafers
Alongside eating a healthy diet, the NHS recommends regular exercise to prevent or reduce high blood pressure.
“It states: “Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.
“Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.
“Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
“Physical activity can include anything from sport to walking and gardening.”
Limiting alcohol intake, losing weight, cutting down on caffeine, stopping smoking and getting a good night’s sleep are also recommended.