High blood pressure is an insidious chronic disease, because it usually doesn’t show any obvious clinical symptoms, at least in the beginning. When there are symptoms, they usually include headaches, fatigue, palpitations and lack of mental concentration. The most serious damage caused by hypertension usually occurs in the heart, kidneys and brain.
The heart is likely to show left ventricular hypertrophy, arrhythmias and heart failure. The kidneys may also be burdened by hypertension, but the severity of the problem depends on the type of hypertension (benign or malignant). Complications in the brain occur in approximately 25% of hypertensive patients and usually include a cerebral or subarachnoid haemorrhage and thrombosis due to ischemia.
How can diet help you in the treatment of hypertension?
Nearly 50% of people who have hypertension are sensitive to salt, which means that the increased sodium intake greatly increases their blood pressure and puts them at risk for various complications. It has been estimated that the average adult consumes about 10 grams of salt instead of the 4 grams that are recommended by international health organizations. According to estimations, 85% of the salt we consume is contained in prepared foods and table salt is only 15% of the salt we eat. Sodium is found in a great variety of foods. The foods that contain significant amounts of sodium are meat, fish, poultry and dairy products. Smaller amounts of sodium are also contained in vegetables and cereals.
In short, here are the foods that you need to avoid, if you suffer from hypertension: artichokes, carrots, celery, cress, spinach, beets, radishes, pineapple, canned fruits, canned vegetables, pickles, salted butter, crackers, chips, salted nuts, ham, salty meats, smoked or canned meats, cheese, ham, baking soda, soy sauce and full-fat dairy products.
On the contrary you can safely eat fresh fish and meats, olive oil, vinegar, fresh fruits, dried beans, low-fat milk, unsalted nuts, honey, pasta and rice.
Additionally, several epidemiological studies show an inverse relationship between the levels of blood pressure and the dietary intake of potassium. The evidence indicates that high intake of potassium can lead to a significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. According to a study, people who consumed a low amount of potassium were 2.6 times more likely to die from a stroke. Potassium may reduce blood pressure by removing sodium from the body through urine.
Potassium-rich foods are peaches, apricots, pears, kiwi, pumpkins, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, oranges, avocados, figs, grapes, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, beans, raisins, plums, strawberries, watermelon, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, beans and walnuts.