Hypertension

Dash diet for high blood pressure

Hypertension is characterized by abnormally high blood pressure on the walls of the arteries. The diagnosis is usually followed by drug treatment to which it is advisable to add a specific diet. The main focus of the high blood pressure diet, or dash diet, will be to reduce salt intake and maintain an adequate dietary balance to prevent weight gain and cardiovascular events.

The essential points of the dash diet to treat hypertension:

  • Reduce salt consumption
  • Choose the right fats to protect the cardiovascular system
  • Limit alcohol consumption and smoking
  • Getting back to a healthy weight
  • Encourage regular physical activity

Benefits of the salt-free diet in case of high blood pressure

The dash diet has many benefits in case of high blood pressure, it allows you to:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Lower blood pressure naturally
  • Reduce salt consumption
  • Maintain an optimal nutrient supply
  • Maintain cardiovascular health
  • Complete the action of the drug treatment

In addition to the drug treatment prescribed by the doctor that is essential to follow, diet can contribute to lowering blood pressure. First of all, it is necessary to reduce salt consumption at mealtimes.

As high blood pressure is a cardiovascular risk factor, it will also be in our interest to promote fibre and favour fats of good nutritional quality (mainly omega-3). Weight loss will also help to reduce blood pressure, as well as stopping smoking and alcohol, which will preserve the condition of the arteries as much as possible.

Dash diet: dietary recommendations

The dash diet is a set of recommendations aimed at establishing a healthy diet to treat high blood pressure and prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is also important to follow this diet properly to achieve a healthy weight. Overall, the dash diet aims to avoid salt and foods that can affect heart health, and to include more protective foods.

Diet to adopt for high blood pressure

To treat high blood pressure, the diet should be as varied as possible to provide the body with all the nutrients it needs: fibre, Omega-3, quality proteins, etc. Dietary measures should be combined with regular physical activity to strengthen their action.

Fibres

Fibre is best used in the dash diet, it reduces cholesterol levels and has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system. At each meal, it is important to bring one of the following sources of fibre:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Pulses

Omega-3

Omega-3s have positive effects on cardiovascular health. They help to thin the blood and regulate blood pressure and also have a very interesting anti-inflammatory effect. At least once a day, one of the following sources of Omega-3 should be included:

  • Walnut oil
  • Linseed oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Nuts
  • Flax and chia seeds

Lean and vegetable proteins

Some sources of animal protein are also sources of saturated fat. Care should therefore be taken to choose foods that combine a good content of protein and good quality fatty acids. As part of the dash diet, the following foods should be included as often as possible for an optimal supply of good protein:

  • Pulses
  • Fishes
  • Seafood products
  • Poultry without skin
  • Lean pieces of meat
  • Tofu
  • Vegetable milks and soy yoghurt
  • Milk and skimmed milk and dairy products
  • Oilseeds

Physical activity

Physical activity helps to fight overweight while promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. It would have very positive effects on the regulation of blood pressure. It is recommended to practice 30 minutes of physical activity per day and to encourage cardio activities of good intensity. Example of a recommended activity in case of high blood pressure:

  • Quick walk
  • Running
  • Nordic walking
  • Hiking
  • Bicycle
  • Dance

Other recommended foods:

  • Antioxidants
  • Low energy density foods
  • Good hydration
  • Homemade

Diet not recommended for high blood pressure

It is recommended to adopt a more or less strict salt-free diet in case of hypertension. This diet tends to put the cardiovascular system at rest and avoid all foods that could harm it such as alcohol, saturated fats, etc. In addition, it will be necessary to avoid risky behaviour: smoking, physical inactivity or uncontrolled eating.

Salt

The dash diet is a low-salt diet. It is important, first of all, to stop adding salt to dishes or during cooking.

Here is a list of salt-rich foods to avoid when eating for high blood pressure:

  • Cubed broths
  • Spice mixtures
  • Mustard
  • Cheese (limit to 1 serving per day)
  • Classic bread
  • Deli meats
  • Smoked food
  • Canned vegetables and fish
  • Industrial sauces
  • Industrial salted biscuits (chips for example)

Alcohol

Alcohol has a negative effect on arterial walls. It weakens the walls and, combined with the increase in blood pressure, increases the risk of cardiovascular accidents. It is therefore recommended, as part of a high blood pressure diet, to limit alcohol consumption to one serving per day for both men and women. Red wine seems to be the least harmful alcohol for the heart.

One serving of alcohol is equivalent to:

  • 250ml beer
  • 12,5cl of wine
  • 2,5cl of strong alcohol

Saturated and trans fats

Trans and saturated fats can prevent the beneficial action of Omega-3s. They would also be involved in the process of forming atherosclerotic plaques. Combined with high blood pressure, they therefore increase the risk of cardiovascular accidents. Under the dash diet, we therefore tend to limit the following foods:

  • Palm oil
  • Hydrogenated margarines
  • Industrial products
  • Prepared dishes
  • Butter, whole cream
  • Cheese
  • Deli meats
  • Fatty meats
  • Fried and breaded products
  • Industrial sauces: mayonnaise, b├ęchamel, etc.
  • Sweet or savoury pastries, pastries and biscuits
  • Fast-food, pizza, etc.

Tobacco

Like alcohol, tobacco weakens the arterial walls. Quitting smoking should therefore be one of the first reflexes to have in case of high blood pressure. Do not hesitate to consult a professional to get help during smoking cessation.

Sedentary life

Sedentary lifestyle, in addition to promoting overweight, has a negative impact on the heart. Regular and moderate physical activity would help to regulate blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. We recommend 30 minutes of physical activity a day to be healthy, to achieve this you can:

  • Take a brisk walk after lunch
  • Cycling to work
  • Get off at a stop before your usual transport stop
  • Take the stairs as often as possible
  • Organize regular hikes or walks with your friends

Other foods not recommended:

  • Refined foods
  • Sweet products

Practical daily tips for following the salt-free diet for high blood pressure

  • Split the diet and make 1 to 2 snacks during the day, if necessary
  • Read labels carefully and prefer low-salt products
  • Start meals with raw vegetables or vegetable soup to be satisfied more quickly
  • Eat fatty fish at least twice a week
  • Sprinkle flax or chia seeds on dishes, soups and yoghurts
  • Prefer starchy foods and wholegrain breads to their classic version
  • Instead of salt, add herbs and spices to enhance the taste of the dishes
  • Eat slowly and listen to food sensations
  • To replace an alcohol-based aperitif, think of tomato juice
  • Cook homemade as much as possible and avoid industrial or already prepared products