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High Blood Pressure and Food Choices

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High blood pressure

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Following a healthy diet can help you manage high blood pressure.

Important Nutrients and Foods That Affect High Blood Pressure

Your diet can play a major role in managing high blood pressure. Focusing on the following tips can help.

Consume enough fibre

  • Aim for 25-35g of fibre per day
  • Increase your intake by eating whole grains, vegetables and fruit with the skin left on, oat bran, psyllium, barley, legumes (such as chickpeas, red, black, kidney or pinto beans and lentils)
Important nutrients

Focus on meeting your calcium, magnesium and potassium requirements

  • Increase your intake of calcium by eating plenty of dairy products including yogurt, cheese and milk
  • Increase your intake of magnesium and potassium by eating more fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes

Reduce Sodium

  • Aim to limit sodium to 2300mg or less per day

Limit Alcohol

  • High amounts of alcohol can increase your blood pressure
  • Aim to limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks per day and to not exceed 15 drinks/week for men and 10 drinks/week for women

The DASH Eating Plan

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a balanced, healthy way of eating that can help with lowering blood pressure. This eating plan is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and fibre.

Compared to a typical diet, the DASH plan has more:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • lower fat milk and milk alternatives
  • whole grain products
  • nuts, seeds and legumes (such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas)

And has less:

  • red meats and includes moderate amounts of fish and poultry
  • sugar and sweets, added sugar and sugar-containing beverages
  • saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium

What To Consider When Reading Food Labels

  • Look at the reference serving size on the package (under the Nutrition Facts title) and calculate the amount of any nutrient on the label (e.g. sodium) by comparing it to the amount you are actually eating.
    • Example: If you look on a nutrition label and the reference serving size is 1 slice and the label indicates that serving size contains 90mg of sodium, eating 2 slices will mean you consume 180mg of sodium (90mg per serving x 2 servings).
  • % Daily Value (% DV) classifies nutrients on a scale from 0% to 100% and tells you if there is a little (5% DV or less) or a lot of a nutrient (15% DV or more) in one serving of a packaged food. You can also use this percentage to compare the nutrient content of different foods.
  • Choose products with higher % DV of calcium, magnesium, potassium and fibre.
  • Choose products with lower % DV of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat.

Nutritions Tips for Managing High Blood Pressure

  • Increase the amount of vegetables and fruit you eat by adding an extra serving to your meals and snacks.
  • Wash and cut up fresh vegetables ahead of time and keep them in the fridge to use for quick snacks.
  • Choose whole grain products whenever you can. For packaged foods, look for products with the words ‘whole grain’ listed as the first ingredient in the label’s ingredient list.
  • Replace sweetened drinks (such as juice and pop) with milk.
  • Choose foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Decrease your portion size of red meat and poultry and fill your plate with more vegetables and whole grains.

The information in this resource is for general information purposes only and is not intended to replace informed medical advice. Consume foods according to any dietary guidelines you have been provided from a health care professional. Metro Ontario Pharmacies Limited assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the information.

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