Written by Teah Randle
Reviewed by Emily Ross
Your diet and lifestyle can have a big impact on your blood pressure. To understand this better, let’s break down what blood pressure is and examine the factors that can influence it.
Blood pressure is a measure of the force exerted by your blood against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it throughout your body. It can naturally fluctuate due to daily activities, caffeine consumption, stress, anxiety, and illnesses. When your doctor diagnoses you with high blood pressure, it means that your blood pressure has been consistently elevated over time. High blood pressure can result from a combination of factors, some within our control and others beyond our influence. These factors include:
- Genetics or Family History: Unfortunately, you cannot change your genetic predisposition to high blood pressure or heart disease if it runs in your family.
- Diet: The food you eat can impact your blood pressure. (We as dietitians can help!)
- Alcohol Intake: Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to high blood pressure.
- Exercise Levels: Regular physical activity can help manage blood pressure.
- Smoking: Smoking is a major contributor to various health issues, including high blood pressure.
Prolonged high blood pressure puts added strain on your heart and increases the risk of heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes.
How to Improve Your Diet and Lifestyle to Reduce Blood Pressure:
- Increase Physical Activity: Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week, depending on intensity as per the Australian Guidelines.
- Reduce Alcohol Consumption: Keep alcohol intake to no more than 10 standard drinks per week, with no more than four on a single occasion.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Seek support from a dietitian or nutrition expert if needed.
- Quit Smoking: Reach out to your doctor or Quitline for personalized assistance in quitting.
- Improve Your Diet: Consider adopting the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which is known for promoting heart health. This diet includes:
- Consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Incorporating whole grains like wholemeal bread, pasta, and quinoa.
- Opting for low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Choosing lean protein sources like fish and poultry.
- Adding beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds to your diet.
- Reducing salt intake by avoiding excessive salt during cooking, minimizing processed foods, and selecting low-sodium alternatives. Use herbs and spices to season your meals instead of salt.
- Limiting saturated fat by reducing consumption of fatty meats, coconut products, and full-fat dairy.
- Reducing added sugars in your diet by avoiding sugary foods and drinks such as soft drinks and cakes.
For recipe ideas and further guidance, you can visit the following websites:
- Eating Well – https://www.eatingwell.com/gallery/11624/dash-diet-meal-plan/
- BBC Food – https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/dash-diet-recipes
- Taste of Home – https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/dash-diet-recipes/
To explore this approach further or receive personalised advice, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to schedule an appointment.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information – Healthy Lifestyle and Blood Pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information – Diet, Blood Pressure, and Hypertension
- Cambridge.org – Diet, Blood Pressure, and Hypertension