Objective of dietary modifications for person suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension is to maintain adequate nutrition, to reduce the sodium intake, to achieve a gradual weight loss in overweight individuals and maintain their weight slightly below normal weight and to restrict fat (if required) depending on the lipid (fat) profile.
Energy needs to be restricted in case of overweight individuals. Even normal weight individuals benefit with a slight reduction in energy. Therefore, the energy intake should be adjusted in such a way so as to bring about a weight loss and maintain slightly below the normal level.
A normal protein intake is suggested. Excess amount of proteins should be avoided, as these foods are usually high in animal fat as well as sodium.
As low energy diets are essentially low fat diets, the quantity of fat should be reduced. Also, it is important to check the quality of fat. Fats should be of plant origin including soya oil, groundnut oil, sunflower oil and corn oil. Fats from animal origin such as ghee, butter etc. should be restricted.
Emphasis should be placed on including foods high in complex carbohydrates such as starches and dietary fibre rather than simple sugars.
An average daily intake of sodium in adults range widely from 3 to 4 gm to as high as 10 to 12 gm. The main source of sodium is common salt i.e. sodium chloride. Other sodium compounds such as baking powder, sodium bi-carbonate and those used in processed and preserved foods.
An adequate potassium intake is an essential part of treatment. This can be done by including sufficient amounts of potassium rich foods such as milk, fruits and vegetables.
Adequate amount of calcium intake is also beneficial in treating high blood pressure. Some of the calcium rich foods are milk, leafy vegetables, etc.
Sodium intake should be lowered for the purpose of controlling high blood pressure. Sodium intake includes salt at the table for salads or curds, salt lightly in cooking and avoid eating processed cheese, salted butter.
Canned vegetables or canned vegetable juices, bread, bread rolls, crackers, mayonnaise or other salad dressings and baking powder, baking soda and anything containing these should be avoided.
In concise, following dietary management could be adopted for controlling high blood pressure.
. Salt needs to be restricted.
. Food should be made in a way that it is palatable even with lesser amount of salt or even without salt.
. Variety of condiments (low in sodium) and flavouring agents such as lemon, vinegar, tamarind extract, onion, garlic, spices, etc. can be used to improve the palatability of salt free food.
. Some foods rich in potassium but low in sodium are potatoes, banana, apricots and legumes, which can be included in the diet.
. Restrict fried and fatty foods.
. Restrict alcohol intake.
Highly salted foods such as potato chips, salted nuts, salted popcorns, salted snacks and foods with sodium as preservative such as tomato ketchup, chilli sauce, soya sauce, garlic sauce, pickles and chutneys are advised to be avoided.