Every year May, 17th is dedicated to World Hypertension Day. High Blood Pressure is a leading cause of cardiovascular health issues around the globe. In India alone, about 30% of population suffers from high blood pressure.
Can we control blood pressure through lifestyle modification?
Certainly. The benefits of lifestyle change on blood pressure is evident from “DASH” – Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension study. There is a strong evidence that reduction of salt – often called as sodium chloride in the diet can lower blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to kidney diseases, stroke and other heart conditions. We should use salt sparingly in our meals.
What are the causes for high blood pressure?
There is no specific cause for high blood pressure. But the risk is increased with smoking, high blood cholesterol, obesity or overweight, low physical activity, high salt intake, Diabetes, high consumption of alcohol, family history of high blood pressure. Sometimes high blood pressure is also contributed by other medical conditions.
Can you explain salt and diet?
Sodium chloride often used as common salt is found in foods naturally. Milk, curds, oats, fresh fruits and vegetables naturally contain salt. Any further addition of salt to the meals, increases the total intake. A roughly estimated amount for general population is no more than 1 tsp ie less than 5 gm a day to prevent any heart conditions.
Foods which are processed like pickles, sauces, tinned fish, tinned soups, breakfast cereals, salty buiscuits, fast foods like french fries, burgers, extra cheese contain high levels of sodium.
Do you have any practical suggestions to reduce salt?
- Give sometime to adapt to your taste buds. It takes 4-5 weeks for your taste buds to get used to it. Reduce the amount gradually.
- Try and read nutrition labels where it is possible. Look for products with less than 120mg sodium per 100gm.
- Put the salt shaker away. Don’t keep it on the dining table.
- Use more herbs to add flavors like ginger, garlic, coriander, mints, tumeric, spices, curry powder, fennel, curry leaves etc.
- Avoid chips, french fries, salted indian snacks like bhujia, samosas and pakoras, cheese, salty nuts.
- Reduce alcohol intake.
What are the lifestyle recommendations?
- Reduce alcohol intake.
- Get more active, atleast 30 mins exercise a day or 10,000 steps a day on a pedometer.
- Avoid cigarrette smoke.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Weight management – if you are overweight lose weight.