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Blood Pressure is nothing but a measure of force of blood pushing against your blood vessel walls. High blood pressure or hypertension is caused due to a diet rich in saturated oils and high in salt, along with lifestyle factors like obesity and sedentary habits. Basically, any activity or diet that leads to the constriction of your blood vessels can lead to hypertension. Hypertension is called the “silent killer’’ because it has no symptoms unless you get your BP checked regularly.
If left undiagnosed, hypertension leads to
- Kidney disease
- Heart failure
- Atherosclerosis or the clogging or hardening of arteries or blood vessels
- Aneurysms which means abnormal blood- filled swelling of an artery or vein
People who are at risk for hypertension are
- People with a family history of high BP
- Pregnant women
- Women on birth control pills
- People over 35 yrs
- People who are overweight
- Sedentary people
- People with a diet rich in oils and salty foods
Hypertension is a major lifestyle issue in the world today. But, it can be controlled by making lifestyle and dietary changes.
- Walking is very good for hypertensives and so is controlling the quantities of salt and saturated oils in your diet.
- The most common means of managing High BP is using something called DASH which means ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’.
- This means, as someone with high BP you should cut back on saturated oils or the oils that are solids at room temperature, as well as cholesterol and trans-fats.
All three can cause constrictions in your blood vessels by narrowing the lumen due to fat deposits on blood vessel walls putting more pressure on the blood vessels and causing hypertension. This effectively means that you have to cut back on oily foods of all kinds, fast foods and also fried foods.
- Red meats are associated with higher risks of cholesterol, so they should be avoided too.
- You should eat more whole-grain foods, fish, poultry, and nuts
- Low salt preparations should be preferred
- Avoid sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats.
The salt hypertension connection
Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in your blood and this puts a lot of strain on your kidneys whose work it is to remove excess water from your blood. This imbalance causes high BP due to the extra fluid.
This high BP puts extra strain on the insides of your arteries as well, and to cope with it the tiny muscles in the artery walls become stronger and thicker. This makes the space within arteries narrower and raises your BP.
So, do cut out extra salt, snack on unsalted stuff like pretzels and raw vegetables to keep a check on sodium levels. Also, do remember to read food labels very carefully to choose products that are low in sodium to keep your BP under control. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a dietitian-nutritionist.