High Blood Pressure: Healthy Eating Guide

Our everyday diet is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Here are some dietary guidelines for hypertension.

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High blood pressure or hypertension is a common condition affecting one in four adult Singaporeans.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension refers to a condition where the blood is pumped around the body at a higher pressure. Hypertension is a silent killer as it may not produce any symptoms. Prolonged high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of developing kidney failure, coronary heart disease and stroke.


Taking Control of Hypertension 

Regular exercise and a healthy diet that includes foods that lower blood pressure can help manage hypertension naturally. This approach may also reduce your reliance on medication to control the disease. 


Basic Dietary Guidelines for Hypertension 

1. Moderate Your Sodium Intake 

Salt contains 40 percent sodium, which is a mineral essential for the normal functioning of the body. However, if eaten in excess, sodium raises blood pressure especially in individuals who are sodium-sensitive. Scientific studies have provided strong evidence that lowering sodium intake is beneficial in reducing blood pressure.

Salt and sauces added in the preparation of food and at the table contribute to most of the sodium we consume daily. Canned and processed foods also generally have a high sodium content.

Here are ways to effectively reduce sodium intake:
Eating at Home 
o Cook with less salt, sauces, stock cubes and seasoning powders as many of these flavourings contain a lot of sodium.
o Enhance the taste of food with natural herbs and spices like onion, ginger, garlic, chilli, parsley, spring onions, cinnamon and cloves.
o Avoid using salted and preserved food such as ikan bilis, salted fish, salted eggs, luncheon meat, sausages and ham.
Eating Out 
o Ask for your food to be prepared with less salt and sauces, where possible.
o Ask for the sauces to be served on the side. Taste food and try not to add more salt or sauces to food at the table, if the food is already palatable.
o Avoid drinking soup stock and sauces as they contain a lot of sodium.
Shopping 
o Buy fresh food as often as possible.
o Use the Nutrition Information Panel on food labels and select food products with less sodium. Products with the Healthier Choice Symbol contain less sodium than similar products in the same category.


2. Increase Intake of Fibre-Rich Food 

Wholegrains, fruits and vegetables are high in fibre, magnesium and potassium, which are known to be beneficial foods that lower blood pressure.
Replace white bread with wholemeal or multigrain bread.
Choose fruits or vegetables, instead of salty snack foods. Aim for two servings of fruits and two servings of vegetables per day.


3. Limit Fat Intake 

Dietary fat is high in calories and excessive intake can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of developing high blood pressure.
Use less oil when cooking and remove all visible fat before eating.
Select healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling and grilling instead of deep-frying.
Choose lean meat or poultry without skin.
Limit consumption of deep-fried foods to one to two times a week.
Choose fat-free or lower-fat foods, such as low-fat milk and fat-free yogurt.

Use the Nutrition Information Panel on food labels to select products that are lower in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. A simple way to identify a healthier product within each food category is to select those with the Healthier Choice Symbol.

When you eat out, do a visual check and pick cooked food items that do not look greasy. Avoid oily, deep-fried food and dishes with gravies that have oil floating on the surface.


4. Limit Alcohol Consumption 

Frequent consumption of alcohol causes your heart to pump harder and faster, thereby increasing blood pressure. Avoid alcohol if you have high blood triglycerides level, kidney disease, diabetes mellitus or heart disease.
Limit or avoid alcohol. If you choose to drink, moderate your intake of alcoholic drink to not more than one standard drink per day (e.g. 100ml wine = 1 standard drink).


5. Lose Weight, if Needed 

Besides eating foods for high blood-pressure control, one of the most effective ways to combat hypertension is to lose some weight if you are overweight. Even a modest weight loss goes a long way to reducing blood pressure. Stick to a diet with fewer calories and engage in regular exercise to achieve a healthy weight.

Where Can I Get More Information? 

Dietitian

For more personalised dietary guidelines for hypertension, make an appointment with a dietitian. 

It is recommended that you consult a dietitian for an evaluation of your current eating habits and an assessment of your specific dietary needs for your health conditions. Individualised advice and a nutrition plan can be developed to meet your nutritional needs.

Your Doctor

You will need to obtain a referral from your doctor for a consultation with a dietitian.

Disclaimer: This page has been produced to provide general nutrition information. It is not designed to replace any treatment or advice by a dietitian or doctor.

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