As per the latest reports of the World Health Organisation (WHO), hypertension or high blood pressure (BP) can hit you even at the young age of 25, and the trigger may start much before. What it can lead to? Well, it raises the risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney failure... the list is endless. The good news however is that it’s one disease that can be easily prevented without making any extra elaborate effort, all you need to do is lead an active yet stress-free life and stick to a balanced diet. There is no direct cause that can be attributed to high blood pressure, but several factors and conditions may play a role in its development. “Smoking, being overweight, lack of physical activity, too much salt in the diet and stress can certainly weaken your case, and you may eventually be a victim of hypertension,” says Dr SK Gupta, cardiologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.
Work out, eat well, kick out stress
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the most important way to lower your risk, maintain a healthy weight, do regular exercise, simple brisk walking, cycling, gardening and taking part in housework could be the easiest options. “Excessive stress can also cause temporary BP spikes, so getting enough sleep, doing deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and exercising for at least 30 minutes daily is important to help reduce stress,” says interventional cardiologist Dr JPS Sawhney of Sir Gangaram Hospital. Certain food items also increase the risk of hypertension. “Get rid of the habit of taking table salt with every morsel, limit binging on high fat dairy products, such as cheese, butter, cream, ghee etc. Limit alcohol consumption and do not make an excuse of stress to smoke up... in fact, quit smoking,” adds Dr Gupta.
Potassium: Gorge on green leafy vegetables, soups, salads, citrus fruits, fresh lime juice, and coconut water to get your potassium fix.
Fiber rich foods: Whole cereals, dalia, oats, whole wheat, brown bread; Whole dals, Rajma , black chana , lobia; Nuts-figs, prunes, flaxseeds; and vegetables and fruits with skin are all rich sources of fibre.
Omega 3 fatty acid: This is found in fish such as salmon and tuna, fish oils, and nuts.
Sodium: Too much sodium is harmful. The suggested range is 1,100 to 3,300mg per day. Table salt is 40% sodium. One teaspoon has about 2,000 mg sodium.
Fats: Remove saturated fats in your diet by cutting down on meats, ghee, high fat dairy products such as milk, butter, cream, and cheese. Cut down on trans fats by avoiding snacks like chips, bakery products, French fries etc. Replace with monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, peanut oil, avocados and polyunsaturated fats, such as sunflower and soyabean oils.
Tobacco: Cigarette smoking may cause arterial stiffness and decrease the ventricular function, which, in turn, increases the risk of hypertension.
The DASH Eating Plan
On an average, a healthy individual requires about 1800 calories per day to keep hypertension at bay. You could follow this Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan, a flexible and balanced diet plan. The number of daily servings may, however, vary, depending on your specific caloric needs, body weight and composition, and level of activity.
Grains & grain products 6 1 slice bread, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal, cup cooked rice
Vegetables 4-5 1 cup raw leafy vegetable, cup cooked vegetable
Fruits 4-5 1 medium fruit, 200ml ounces fruit juice
Low fat or fat free dairy foods 2-3 250ml milk, 1 cup yogurt
Lean meats, poultry and fish 2 1/2cup cooked lean meat, skinless poultry or fish
Nuts, seeds and dry beans 4-5/week 7 to 8 nuts
Fats & oils 2-3 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Sweets 2-3 1 teaspoon sugar
By Ritika Samaddar, HOD of nutrition and dietetics, Max Healthcare Institute