Certain lifestyle and dietary changes are required to lower your blood pressure. Following a healthy diet (minimum salt intake) and exercising regularly can help you avoid, delay or even reduce the need for taking medicine.
Avoid salt (sodium)
A high-sodium diet increases blood pressure in many people. The less sodium you eat, the better blood pressure control you might have.
To lower the sodium in your diet, try these:
• Use a food diary to keep track of the salt in the food you eat
• Aim for less than 2,300 mg (about 1 tsp salt) each day. Ask your doctor if you should go lower, to 1,500 mg
• Read the nutritional facts label on every food package
• Select foods that have 5% or less of Daily Value of sodium and avoid those with 20% or more of the Daily Value of sodium
• Avoid canned food, processed food, lunch meat and fast food
• Use salt-free seasonings
• Avoid substance use, alcohol and cigarette smoking
Walk for 40 minutes daily. Always have a good sleep as lack of sleep also adds to high blood pressure
Know what to eat
Potassium, magnesium and fibre may help control blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, magnesium and fibre and are also low in sodium. Stick to whole fruits and veggies; juice is less helpful as the fibre is removed. Also, nuts, seeds, legumes, lean meats and poultry are good sources of magnesium.
To increase the natural potassium, magnesium and fibre intake, select from apples, apricots, bananas, beetroot, greens, broccoli, carrots, green beans, dates, grapes, green peas, kale, lima beans, mangoes, melons, oranges, peaches, pineapples, potatoes, raisins, squash, strawberries, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tuna, amla, lemon, jamun, barley flour, barley water, barley Sattu, yoghurt or homemade curd.
The writer is a dietician/nutritionist.