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Simple Steps to a Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension is a common condition that affects one in six adult Singaporeans. Persistent hypertension is one of the key risk factors for stroke and heart failure. Dietary and lifestyle changes can help you to improve control over your blood pressure and help lower the risk of associated health complications. 

When it comes to diet, here are simple steps that you can take to help lower your blood pressure. Check them out!

Related: High Blood Pressure — Healthy Eating Guide

Eat Less Salt

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

We get sodium from:

  • what is added during the processing of food

  • what we add when cooking

  • what we add at the table

  • what is found naturally in food

While canned and processed foods generally do have a hgher sodium content, the biggest source of salt and sodium that is consumed daily is through salt, sauces and condiments that are added during the preparation of food and added at the table.

Here are ways to effectively reduce sodium intake:

Eating at Home

  • Cook with less salt, lower sodium sauces, stock cubes and seasoning powders.  Many of these seasonings contain a lot of sodium.

  • Enhance the taste of food with natural herbs and spices like onion, ginger, garlic, chilli, parsley, spring onions, cinnamon and cloves.

  • Use less of highly salted and preserved food such as ikan bilis, salted fish, salted eggs, luncheon meat, sausages and ham.

Related: Healthy Home Meals on a Budget

Eating Out

  • Ask for your food to be prepared with less salt and sauces, where possible.

  • Ask for the sauces to be served on the side. Taste food first, try not to add more salt or sauces to food at the table, if the food is already palatable.

  • Avoid drinking all of the given soup stock and gravies as these have high hidden sodium and salt content. 

Related: Eating Light at a Hawker Centre Is Possible

Shopping

  • Buy fresh food as often as possible.

  • Use the Nutrition Information Panel on food labels and choose food products with lower salt and sodium content. Products with the Healthier Choice Symbol contain less sodium than similar products in the same category.

Foods that Lower Blood Pressure

There is substantial scientific evidence that a well-balanced diet supports a lower sodium intake to help prevent hypertension and even lower blood pressure in individuals with existing high blood pressure conditions. More often than not, the various components of a healthier diet will work together to bring down blood pressure levels.

Enjoying healthier, balanced meals can be easy! Simply Quarter, Quarter, Half and follow the My Healthy Plate visual guide for an easy way to eat healthily. Dish up a Quarter plate of wholegrain foods such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, whole wheat biscuits and oats to include in your diet. 

For protein, choose egg, poultry, lean meat and fish to fill a Quarter of your plate instead of options with higher saturated fat content such as fatty cuts of meats. You can also consider low-fat dairy products, and even plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts and seeds. Half of your plate should be made up of fresh fruit and vegetables which are naturally rich in potassium. Potassium helps to counter the effect of sodium in the body and lowers blood pressure effectively. 

If you do cook at home, do choose cooking methods that would help you cook with less oil. Steam, grill, bake, roast, boil or pan fry with less oil, to keep your dishes lower in fat.

Use the Nutrition Information Panel on food labels to help you choose healthier food products that are lower in saturated fats. 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 excessive oils floating on the surface.

Related: My Healthy Plate

Limit Alcohol

There is evidence to show that consuming alcohol in large amounts and frequently, will increase blood pressure. So, if you do drink alcohol, limit the amount you drink. Limit alcohol intake to no more than one standard drink per day if you are a woman and two standard drinks per day if you are a man. A standard drink is a can (330ml) of beer, 1 glass (100ml) of wine or 1 nip (30ml) of spirits.

Related: Alcohol and Health—Setting Your Drink Limits

Lose Weight, If Needed

One of the most effective ways to combat blood pressure is to lose some weight, if you are overweight. Even a modest reduction goes a long way to reduce blood pressure. Consume a diet that is lower in calories and engage in regular exercise to achieve a healthier weight.

Related: Exercise vs. Diet

So Remember...

  • Reduce your sodium intake by:

    • Cooking with less salt and sauces.

    • Asking for less sauce and gravy when eating out.

    • Choosing fresh over-processed food.

    • Buying food products with the Healthier Choice Symbol.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet which includes wholegrain food, vegetables and fruit. An easy way is to follow My Healthy Plate to guide your meals. Limit your intake of saturated fat.

  • If you drink alcohol, moderate how much you consume. For those who do not drink, do not start.

  • Manage your weight and take steps to help you achieve a healthier weight if you are currently overweight.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


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