High blood pressure can be controlled with a healthy diet

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The number of people suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension has risen significantly under the new American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines which have redefined high blood pressure as a reading of 130/80 and above, instead of 140/90.

While Singapore has yet to adopt the same guidelines, a reading of 130/80 is still considered high-normal here.

Singapore’s blood pressure guidelines thus remain:

  • Normal – less than 120/80
  • High-normal – 130/80-89
  • Hypertension (Stage 1) – 140-159/90-99
  • Hypertension (Stage 2) – 160 and above/100 and above

If your blood pressure is in the high-normal range or Stage 1 hypertension categories, it is advised that you take diet and lifestyle steps to lower it. While regular exercise and avoiding smoking are highly recommended, diet also plays a big part in one’s blood pressure.

Follow the DASH diet to lower your blood pressure

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is specially designed to prevent or lower high blood pressure. By following DASH, you may be able to reduce your blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks, says the Mayo Clinic. The DASH diet recommends reducing your intake of sodium and saturated fats and consuming the following foods:

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Grains: 6-8 servings daily
Choose brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain bread, and opt for foods labeled ‘100 per cent whole grain’ or ‘100 per cent whole wheat’.

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Vegetables: 4-5 servings daily

Fruits: 4-5 servings daily
Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, incorporating them into your meals or enjoying them as snacks.

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Low-fat dairy: 2-3 servings daily
Opt for low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and other dairy products but consume cheese, which is often high in sodium, in moderation.

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Lean meats – fish, poultry: 6 servings or less daily
“Aim for no more than 6 ounces a day (170g). Cutting back on your meat portion will allow room for more vegetables,” says Mayo Clinic.

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Nuts, seeds, legumes: 4-5 servings weekly
These are good sources of magnesium, potassium and protein as well as fibre and plant compounds called phytochemicals which protect against cancer and heart disease.

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