Losing weight not only reduces the likelihood of complications due to high blood pressure; losing weight usually entails dietary changes that will also reduce hypertension. For example, eating fewer processed foods will both help a person lose weight and reduce sodium intake. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and no trans-fats ensures good overall health. Therefore, the first step towards reducing high blood pressure is learning how to identify foods that are healthy. Reading product labels is one way to keep track of sodium intake. In general, persons with high blood pressure should avoid all processed and fast foods, which contain exorbitant amounts of salt.
In addition to paying attention to their sodium intake, individuals with high blood pressure or who are prone to it need to pay attention to their calcium intake. Low calcium intake is linked to high blood pressure (Anderson et al. 2008). Therefore, persons with high blood pressure should learn to identify foods that are high in calcium such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, sesame seeds, and small fish with edible bones. The consumption of dietary calcium may be insufficient for vegans and those with allergic reactions to dairy products. In this case, individuals can supplement their diet with a calcium pill. Calcium is best absorbed when consumed in conjunction with other nutrients such as Vitamin D Potassium is also an important dietary mineral that helps “prevent and control high blood pressure,” (Mayo Clinic 2010).
Ideally, all persons should focus their diet on fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh fish, whole grains, and healthy fats such as olive oil. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains naturally contain the vitamins and minerals essential for healthy heart functioning.
There are risk factors other than diet that will affect blood pressure. Smoking and drinking alcohol are other lifestyle issues that can adversely affect hypertension. Stress may also contribute to high blood pressure (Mayo Clinic 2010). Although lifestyle management is the most important and most straightforward way to reduce high blood pressure, there are risk factors out of the persons control. For example, certain ethnic groups show greater tendency to manifest symptoms of hypertension. African-Americans, for example, are at a higher risk than other ethnic groups in having high blood pressure (Zieve & Eltz 2011). Anyone who is prone to hypertension should take special care to eat right and monitor blood pressure regularly.
Anderson, J., Young, L. & Long, E. (2008). Diet and hypertension. Colorado State University. Retrieved online: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09318.html
MayoClinic (2010). High blood pressure (hypertension). Retrieved online: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/DS00100/DSECTION=lifestyle%2Dand%2Dhome%2Dremedies
Zieve, D. & Eltz, D.R. (2011). Hypertension. PubMed. Retrieved online: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001502/.